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Kenya:Uhuru locked Ruto out of State House meeting
February 20, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

From friends to foes, relations between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto have soured
From friends to foes, relations between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto have soured

It has been revealed that deputy president William Ruto’s absence during the top state officials’ meeting on Thursday, February 19, 2021, was orchestrated.

Emmanuel Talam, Ruto’s Communication Director, told the Star that his boss was not invited to the event.

“As far as I know, the Deputy President was not invited. But State House can clarify,” the Star quoted Talam.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s chaired meeting was attended by Cabinet Secretaries, Chief Administrative Secretaries, and Principal Secretaries.

Next to the President Sat the Interior Minister Dr. Fred Matiang’i and Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua.

The President outlined his vision and priorities for this year, including completing ongoing Government projects and programmes across all sectors and regions of the country.

The officials also deliberated on ongoing National Government programmes covering the Big 4 Agenda and Vision 2030 flagship projects.

“…the President instructed the officials to ensure prudent utilization of public resources in service delivery, saying Kenyans must always get the highest value return for their money,” said the State House spokesperson Kanze Dena.

The head of state further appealed to the officials to embrace teamwork and unity of purpose to deliver the promise of a better and prosperous Kenya for all.

In recent weeks, the President and his deputy have exchanged barbs with the former daring his assistant to resign.

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The African Energy Chamber to launch its first advisory board book outlining how the African energy sector can reshape itself for a post-COVID-19 comeback
February 19, 2021 | 0 Comments

Industry experts share their perspectives on what it will take for the energy sector to recover.

 The book will feature a series of articles, interviews, debates and data resources on the current status of Africa’s energy landscape and showcase a way forward; the first of its kind for the Chamber, the book will be sold across all major international retailers including Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble and Kobo; key participants in the book include Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, Secretary General of OPEC; Frank Ene, CEO of RoyalGate Energy; Pierre Raillard, Country Director, Morocco Chariot Oil and Gas; Nosizwe Nokwe-Macamo, Executive Chairman and Founder of Raise Africa Investments; Akinwole Omoboriowo II, Chairman and CEO of Genesis Energy Group to name a few; join the conversation on social media using #ChamberNews #ChamberBoard #RoadToRecovery.

The African Energy Chamber (the Chamber) is pleased to announce that it will be launching its first-ever advisory board book.

Titled African Energy Road to Recovery: How the African Energy Industry can Reshape itself for a post-COVID-19 comeback the book is a compilation of data resources, articles and interviews outlining the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and slump in oil prices on the African energy industry and how the sector can prepare for a rebound.

Through chapters on local content exploration, natural gas, energy transition and global investment, the book intends to offer a wide view of the current state of the sector and provide a pragmatic roadmap to recovery.

“2020 was a tough year for the industry, it required African petroleum producers and local and international investors to re-examine their strategies as a means to navigate through the ever so complex energy landscape,” said NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber. “Through conversations with our advisory board members, who are also active players in the global energy sector, we have put together this resource to act as a guide for the private and public sector as they work through this most challenging time. Now is the time to be smart, rethink, make decisions now for the future,” he added.

“The two-pronged crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic and the slump in oil prices presented African petroleum producers with unparalleled challenges,” said Mandisa Nduli, Director of Marketing and Communications at the African Energy Chamber. “Having watched the reactions of governments and industry stakeholders in the past year, we felt it was important that we build on the examinations presented in our Africa Energy Outlook report launched in November. The Road to Recovery book is a true depiction of the Chamber’s mission to provide possible solutions to the challenges that continue to undermine Africa s energy sector. This book, as well as the chamber is solutions oriented, with the intent of providing practical steps as to how to make energy work for Africa,” she added

The African Energy Road to Recovery book will be available for online purchase on all major international retail outlets including Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. Join the conversation and engage with the Chamber on social media using #ChamberNews #RoadToRecovery #ChamberBoard

About the African Energy Chamber NPC:
Established in 2018 to promote sustainable investments and best practice in the African Energy Industry, the African Energy Chamber (AEC) (https://EnergyChamber.org) brings together stakeholders from multiple African and global jurisdictions who are interested in energy matters across the entire energy value chain.

AEC members and partners include governments, indigenous and international businesses as well as multilateral organisations who are fully committed to free-market principles, the rule of law, education, entrepreneurship, transparency and other values that promote the development of the African energy industry in a manner that will render it sustainable and competitive.

*SOURCE African Energy Chamber

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Cameroon: Canada Should Adopt Targeted Sanctions against Perpetrators of Mass Killings – Christopher Fomunyoh
February 19, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Canada needs to leverage its position in bringing about a solution to the ongoing Anglophone crisis, says Dr Fomunyoh
Canada needs to leverage its position in bringing about a solution to the ongoing Anglophone crisis, says Dr Fomunyoh

Over the years the relics of the federation have been wiped out and the identity of the people of Southern Cameroon diluted by the regime of President Biya, who has been in power for more than 38 years. In the wake of these atrocities, neglect and assimilation, the people of former British Southern Cameroon are today demanding a return to the status quo or a separation.

Dr Christopher Fomunyoh, Senior Associate for Africa and Regional Director at the National Democratic Institute (NDI) for International Affairs speaking recently on Canada’s Sub-Committee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development said Canada needs to leverage its position in bringing about a solution to the ongoing Anglophone crisis.

One of such actions that can be undertaken by Canada according to the political scientist is that the country should adopt targeted sanctions against perpetrators of mass killings, torture and other atrocities being carried out by individuals.

“Sanctions should be placed. It sends a strong signal that the world is watching and impunity will not be accepted,” Dr Christopher Fomunyoh, Adjunct Faculty at the African Center for Strategic Studies stated.

“Canada should use its position on the World Bank, IMF, and NATO to ensure that resources granted to Cameroon are not diverted to fight a war against its people. Canada should also call for an immediate ceasefire and a public commitment (both the Cameroon government and the non-state armed groups) to negotiation with Canada assuming the role of third party negotiator. 

Canada is known as a big advocate in the respect for Human Rights and equality but the country like other major world powers like USA, Britain, France and international organizations have all ended in speech making with no meaningful action taken to bring both the state and the armed groups on the dialogue table.

The country has a unique position to end the crisis as it is with Cameroon the only two countries that have a sit at both the Commonwealth and Francophonie.

 “There has been a bad faith of the Francophone majority to assimilate the Anglophone minority into the Francophone majority. Since 1969 Cameroon has had just two presidents, all Francophone and there has been dissatisfaction on the part of Anglophone,” Dr Christopher Fomunyoh, adjunct professor of African politics and government at Georgetown University said in his opening remarks at the subcommittee.

The ongoing crisis in the North West and South West Regions has led tens of thousands of people to flee their homes in search of shelter. Some have migrated to other safe areas in the country; others are in the bushes, while some have sought refuge in neighbouring Nigeria.

Both government and separatist fighters have been accused of committing gross human rights violations against civilians. Children, mothers, girls have faced the brunt of the crisis with the young girls raped and others have gone into prostitution. The actual data in Cameroon on the number of those killed, displaced cannot be ascertained as limited materials are available.

“Canada should lead calls for a fact-finding mission to let the world know some specific data on the crisis such as lives lost; those in detention, and others. There is a lot of propaganda going on now as no one opens up to the crimes that they have committed,” Dr Fomunyoh said.

“In 2020, the UN SG called for a ceasefire as a result of the COVID-19. If nothing is done to bring about a ceasefire, the conflict might explode looking at the second wave of the pandemic.

The USC Clinic has documented serious violations that are ongoing in Cameroon. It is an atrocious act with some analysts warning of an impending genocide in the country.

“Cameroon is facing a humanitarian catastrophe in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rampant killings are taking place, rape and other violence meted on the population,” Hannah Garry, Clinical Professor of Law and Director of International Human Rights Clinic, Gould School of Law said.

“The violence must stop and for years now, the international community has taken limited actions to the crisis. There needs to be the accountability with targeted sanctions brought to persons fuelling the crisis. Canada should act as a third party in bringing the two sides to the dialogue table.”

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Kenya: Ruto’s hurdles ahead of 2022 polls
February 19, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Down but not out Deputy President Ruto is showing no signs of abandoning his Presidential ambitions.Photo courtesy
Down but not out Deputy President Ruto is showing no signs of abandoning his Presidential ambitions .Photo courtesy

Kenya heads towards critical elections in 2022, and many candidates have already expressed their interests in the country’s top seat led by Deputy President William Ruto. With 2022 drawing closer, political realignments and new parties’ formation have begun at very high gear.

So far, more than ten candidates have announced their presidential bids, and the number might increase with time. The latest to join the race is Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and his Mombasa counterpart Hassan Joho of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party headed by the AU envoy Raila Odinga. The duo whose terms as Governor expire next year are deputizing Odinga. Oparanya and Joho seek the ODM ticket in a battle that will pit them against their boss to get a strong candidate to face Ruto.

“I will submit my nomination papers to seek the ODM ticket for the 2022 presidential race,” Oparanya told the Star.

The bold decision taken by the two county bosses was preceded by the ODM’s earlier announcement inviting applicants interested in vying for the 2022 presidential election of the party’s ticket to submit their applications latest on February 26, 2021. The Elections Board Chairperson Catherine Muyeka Mumma, in an advert on a local daily, said that each candidate must pay a ksh 1 million (approximately 10,000 USD) non-refundable fee. The applicants must also meet t the minimum requirements of presidential candidates as set out by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

“Pursuant to  the resolution of the party’s Central Committee on the need for early preparations towards the 2022 General Elections and guided by The Constitution of Kenya, 2010, The  Elections Act, 2011, The Political Parties Act, 2011, The Elections (General) Regulations, 2012, The ODM Constitution and The ODM party  National Elections and Nomination Rules, the National Elections Board (NEB) hereby gives notice to party members who are interested in vying for the 2022 presidential elections on the ODM party ticket to declare their interest by submitting their applications to the NEB, “ read the part of the advert.

Other candidates include former vice presidents Kalonzo Musyoka and Musalia Mudavadi, Governors Alfred Mutua and Kivutha Kibwana, Senators Gideon Moi and Moses Wetangla, Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Mukhisa Kituyi, and former minister Mwangi Kiunjuri.

From friends to foes, relations between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto have soured
From friends to foes, relations between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto have soured

Between now and next year, Kenyans are set to witness the birth of new political parties and alliances and party-hopping as leaders try to find out a political vehicle that will drive them to power. Reports from the Registrar of Political Parties’ office show that many people are tendering their resignation from one party and move to another.

“We do have an increase in people changing parties. People resign from one party and join another every day. Resignations are all over now, maybe because of the several by-elections that have been scheduled by the IEBC,” said the Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu.

The ruling party’s ongoing battles, Jubilee, have seen the formation of a new political outfit, namely the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) associated with the deputy president. Even though the second in command has not personally come out and identify himself with the new party, his allies several times have hinted that the party is the chosen bus that will drive their boss to the presidency. Ruto’s allies are somehow correct because the outfit is associated with the Hustler Nation slogan, along with the Wheelbarrow Movement that Ruto has been popularising across the country.

 “We formed Jubilee but to our dismay, we are humiliated and derided. We no longer have a say in it. In UDA which is an affiliate to Jubilee, we have a home that can help us ascend to power. There is an option now for us who have a difference of opinion regarding the operations of the Jubilee party. UDA has now gained traction across the country and we shall use it for shelter,” reiterated MP Caleb Kositany.

The United Democratic Alliance (UDA), formerly the Party of Development and Reform (PDR), will be launched soon, followed by the election of officials from the grassroots to the national level, according to the party’s chairman Johnson Muthama.

“We have succeeded in changing the name and already have our headquarters. Now we are in Phase Two where we are set to open offices in all the sub-counties and county headquarters. From there, we will elect officials in all our branches to the top leadership. This is the party by the hustlers and for the hustlers and we want them to own and be part of every step and process of the decision-making in the party,” said Muthama.

The country’s political atmosphere is already tensed as the presidential hopefuls engage in a bitter exchange of words. Recently, Kalonzo and Ruto locked horns over land grabbing claims. Ruto had accused the former of grabbing land belonging to the National Youth Service in Yatta, Machakos County. Kalonzo instead turned guns on the deputy president, accusing him of all manner of ills, and ended up branding him the chief land grabber. Addressing the press in Nairobi on January 19, 2021, the former vice president termed Ruto’s claims wild and desperate propaganda and challenged him to subject himself to lifestyle audit and investigations.

Prior, Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress Party (ANC) had asked Ruto to resign or face impeachment over his constant attack on the president. Ayub Savula, an ANC deputy party leader, threatened to rally lawmakers to ouster Ruto for allegedly disrespecting President Uhuru Kenyatta. Ruto, allies in rejoinder, described Mudavadi and his party as confused, asking them to keep off the Jubilee party’s affairs.

“Who is supposed to complain? Is it ANC or members of Jubilee? That is a sign of a confused party,” said former National Assembly Chief Whip Benjamin Washiali.

Moreover, Ruto’s claims that Raila should take responsibility for the government’s failures to meet the development plan due to a famous handshake has put him under fire from the opposition chief.  Raila criticized him over Jubilee’s unfulfilled promises labeling him “Mr. Six months.”

Ruto in a handshake with opposition leader Raila Odinga while President Kenyatta looks on.Both men are frontline candidates to succeed Kenyatta when his second and last mandate ends. Photo courtesy
Ruto in a handshake with opposition leader Raila Odinga while President Kenyatta looks on.Both men are frontline candidates to succeed Kenyatta when his second and last mandate ends. Photo courtesy

“Mr Six months! The youngsters you promised laptops eight years ago are now old enough to see through your lies. The youth you promised eight million jobs in eight yrs can see through the wheelbarrow lie you are now peddling. It has been eight yrs Mr Six months and not three years. No Mr Six months!”

“There are people like ‘Mr. Six Months Time’, In six months time we shall give all children in schools laptops, in six months time we shall give one million jobs to our youth, in six months we shall build 47 modern stadia, in six months we shall build tarmacked roads,” said Raila.

President Kenyatta had indicated that he would prefer a person from an ethnic community other than any of the two that have produced the country’s past presidents to succeed him. Many leaders welcomed his statement except those in Ruto’s camp. Ruto hails from the Kalenjin community, which produced a long-serving head of state in Kenya’s political history. The late Daniel Moi served for 24 years before retiring in 2022.

*Culled from February Issue of PAV Magazine

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FIFA President kicks-off African visit with stadium inauguration in Mauritania
February 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

Upon arrival, the FIFA President was welcomed by the President of the Mauritanian Football Federation (FFRIM) Ahmed Yahya
Upon arrival, the FIFA President was welcomed by the President of the Mauritanian Football Federation (FFRIM) Ahmed Yahya
Upon arrival, the FIFA President was welcomed by the President of the Mauritanian Football Federation (FFRIM) Ahmed Yahya
Upon arrival, the FIFA President was welcomed by the President of the Mauritanian Football Federation (FFRIM) Ahmed Yahya
NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania, February 17, 2021/ — FIFA (FIFA.com) President Gianni Infantino has arrived in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, the first stop on an itinerary that will see him visit FIFA member associations in several African countries along with heads of state and African Union (AU) Chairperson Félix Tshisekedi over the coming days.

Upon arrival, the FIFA President was welcomed by the President of the Mauritanian Football Federation (FFRIM) Ahmed Yahya, and travelled to the Stade Municipal de Nouadhibou to officially inaugurate the venue which was featuring a new artificial turf pitch that received FIFA Forward support.

“We have enjoyed some impressive youth football in a modern and well-equipped stadium which is a very good and concrete example of how FIFA Forward funds are used to develop football all over the world, and particularly in Africa,” the FIFA President said following the inauguration, which was also attended by Taleb Ould Sid´Ahmed, the Mauritanian Minister of Employment, Youth and Sports.

“FIFA is very proud that the FIFA Forward programme was used to invest in the new Stade Municipal de Nouadhibou which and is an excellent setting for the CAF U20 Africa Cup of Nations. I compliment the FFRIM and its President Ahmed Yahya, and also CAF, on staging this competition especially given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The competition is a great platform to showcase the amazing young talent of African football, and I look forward to seeing who will take the U20 trophy.”

“This facility, both the stadium and the technical centre, are important facilities for the development of football in Mauritania, and I would like to thank FIFA for helping to make this project come to life through FIFA Forward,” FFRIM President Ahmed Yahya added.

Stade Municipal de Nouadhibou, along with Nouakchott’s Cheikh Boidiya Stadium and Stade Olympique, is currently hosting the CAF U20 Africa Cup of Nations, which runs from 14 February until 6 March 2021. In staging the event, CAF also benefitted from FIFA COVID-19 Relief Fund support with funding provided for the maintenance and running of stadiums, as well as training of referees and security officers for tournaments.

On the pitch, CAF’s WAFU B champions Ghana recorded a 4-0 success against CECAFA runners-up Tanzania, before Morocco’s Young Atlas Lions, returning after a seven season hiatus from the competition, faced Gambia’s Baby Scorpions.

*SOURCE Fédération internationale de football association (FIFA)
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DRC: Joseph Kabila Has Nothing Else To Offer, It’s Time For Tshisekedi- Eloge Mwandwe
February 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Maniraguha Ferdinand

The cohabitation between President Tshisekedi and his predecessor was making it difficult for his vision to flourish
The cohabitation between President Tshisekedi and his predecessor was making it difficult for his vision to flourish

Twist and turns in the complex political games in the DR Congo have resulted in the emergence of a new coalition which gives President Tshisekedi an upper hand in the power struggle with his predecessor Joseph Kabila.

Kabila’s coalition had majority both in government and in parliament and on some occasions, developmental projects were blocked due to disagreements, which stalled pledges Tshisekedi had promised citizens who voted him in 2018.

In the end of 2020, Tshisekedi made some reforms. He made political consultations with other key political parties including those that had joined FCC of Joseph Kabila. In the end, they agreed to form another Coalition named   ‘Union sacrée’  (Sacred Union) aimed at finding a new majority both chambers of parliament.

Senator Modeste  Bahati Lukwebo,  a former ally of Joseph Kabila, was named as an informant to identify a new majority coalition in the National Assembly. He presented his report to president Tshisekedi by the end of January 2021, after lobbying more than 390 lawmakers out of 500 to join Union sacrée, with majority quitting the FCC of Joseph Kabila.

The report came in the same week that President Tshisekedi accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga Ilunkamba, two days after parliament voted him out.

Pan African Visions sat for an interview with Eloge Mwandwe, a political analyst, researcher in Rural Economics from Kinshasa and   lecturer at the University of Likasi in Kinshasa. Mwandwe is also a member of AFDC (Alliance des forces démocratiques du Congo), the same party as of Lukwebo.

After 18 years, Joseph Kabila has nothing new to offer Congolese says Mwandwe
After 18 years, Joseph Kabila has nothing new to offer Congolese says Mwandwe

PAV: After the informant presented his report, what is next for DRC?

Mwandwe:  A new permanent national assembly’s bureau will be put in place, and the president in respect of our Constitution, will appoint a new Prime Minister among the political leaders who form the current new identified majority.

 PAV: It is said that Union sacrée aims at weakening the power of former president Kabila, what kind of threat did he pose to the current president?

Mwandwe: The new identified majority has nothing to do with individual, instead, it was formed to improve citizens’ life, It is about the country. I first of all do not think that the President Kabila whom I owe respect as former head of state, after eighteen years of power has something else to offer to Congolese. He has done what he could and now, it’s time for the current president, Felix Antoine Tshisekedi to implement his vision through the next government. 

PAV: Do you think Kabila will not retaliate?

Mwandwe:  We are talking about future. Honestly, Congolese people know President Kabila and know his limits as well.

PAV: What incentives did the Informant give to FCC MPs to join Union sacrée?

Mwandwe:   He only presented to them as well as other members of parliament from different political organizations, the vision that the President has for the country, which you will agree with me that majority of them decided to support. As I said earlier, it has nothing to do with individual but the country.

Mwandwe says that it is time for President Tshisekedi to deliver on what he promised the people
Mwandwe says that it is time for President Tshisekedi to deliver on what he promised the people

PAV: Are you sure that they will stick to the agreement?

Mwandwe: Only God never knows. For members of parliament, I choose to remain optimistic, because the issue at hand concern the future of our country. We have reached a point where we need to decide for a better future on behalf of next generations.

 PAV: Are all Congolese behind these reforms of President Tshisekedi?

Mwandwe:  Even God in heaven experienced opposition, that is the reason why today we talk of Lucifer. I don’t think that the president of the republic is concerned on whether his vision has total support from Congolese, but I do think he knows that his vision will take the country to the better heights. It will give hope the country has lost a long time ago.

Before elections, we had some people who could not agree with him, but they are the ones who are supporting him today. Some did not want even to mention his name some weeks ago, however they are now defending his vision.  It is a matter of time, it is a matter of political results and improving lives.

Modeste Bahati Lukwebo was instrumental in coblling the new majority coalition for President Tshisekedi
Modeste Bahati Lukwebo was instrumental in cobbling the new majority coalition for President Tshisekedi

PAV: Kabila used to be a powerful figure in the army, do you think the army is behind Tshisekedi now?

Mwandwe: Thank God  we can now talk of a republican army, not an individual’s army. According to our Constitution, the president of the republic is the only supreme commander of the army. Today, President Tshisekedi is the  president of the republic, so, he is the most powerful figure in the army.

PAV:  Observers define developments in DRC as worrisome, which could end in violence, what do you think about it?

Mwandwe:  It is their opinion, I don’t see such things happening in the future. People should understand that the DRC has moved from a country which  could not give hope to its citizens,  to the country envisioning hope for its citizens. Majority of Congolese are focused on implementing the president of the republic’s vision.

 PAV: Is there any clear difference from FCC of Kabila and new Sacred Union of Tshisekedi?

Mwandwe: The difference between FCC and Sacred Union is that the FCC was created to win elections which it failed to achieve (in 2018). On the other hand, Sacred Union was created to bring  reforms in different areas, which will improve social and economic lives of  the Congolese people.

*Culled from February Issue of PAV Magazine

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We are witnessing a Senseless War in Cameroon – NDI’s Christopher Fomunyoh
February 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

The UN and its various agencies have to step up and Speak out on the crisis

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

The UN and its various agencies have to step up and Speak out on the crisis ,says Dr Fomunyoh
The UN and its various agencies have to step up and Speak out on the crisis ,says Dr Fomunyoh

The conflict in Cameroon’s North West and South West Regions has been the most neglected humanitarian crisis in the world for two consecutive years, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council (2019, and 2020).

Speaking during The Oxford Conference on US Senate Resolution 684 on Wednesday, February 17, Dr Christopher Fomunyoh, Senior Associate for Africa and Regional Director at the National Democratic Institute (NDI) has made it clear that what is ongoing in the Anglophone Regions is “a senseless war.”

Dr Fomunyoh spoke on the role of the international community, including the USA with regards to the implementation of resolution 684.

Despite the polarization that has been witnessed in US policies for some years now, the US Senate was able to come together in a bipartisan fashion and adopt this resolution (684) on January 1, 2021.

Resolution 684 by the US Senate calls for an end to all violence; respect for the human rights of all Cameroonians, and the pursuit of genuinely inclusive dialogue with a credible third party towards resolving the ongoing civil conflict in Anglophone Cameroon.

 “We see promise in the US Senate that they are not going to stop at that but they will engage and hope to transform the resolution into a bill and legislation that will have a benchmark and bring the conflict to an end,” Dr Christopher Fomunyoh stated.

The Norwegian Refugee Council for two years has stated that the conflict taking place in former British Southern Cameroon is the most underreported in the world. This according to the Senior Associate for Africa needs to change and more have to be done by various actors at the international level.

“The SG (of the Norwegian Refugee Council) is one of the highest-profile personalities to visit the conflict zones. Many have sat in their offices across the world and issued statements without making the efforts to go see for themselves the lives that are being lost and the destruction,” Dr Fomunyoh said.

“The US Holocaust Museum, highly reputable has now classified Cameroon as one of the priority countries in its Genocide Prevention Centre which is a wakeup call for all of us.”

On how the UN should act on the Anglophone crisis that sees no end in sight at the moment, Dr Fomunyoh said the UN needs to step up and speak out. To him, Resolution 2532 issued by the UN SG (calling for a ceasefire by both sides of the conflict due to the COVID pandemic) was not respected in Cameroon as some of the worst atrocities through 2020 happened right in the tick of COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr Christopher Fomunyoh stated: “As the world is entering the second wave of the COVID-19, we have to be sensitized as to the fact that that resolution was not implemented and if we do not have an immediate ceasefire, the impact of the conflict is going to be aggravated by the second wave of the pandemic.”

One of the most important works that the UN is expected to do according to Dr Fomunyoh is for them to organize a delegation and conduct a fact-finding mission in Cameroon with the UN Human Rights Council best suited for that.

“Since 2019 the official deaths in this conflict has stayed unbelievable at 3,000, whereas we know that people are being killed daily and even since January 2021, more than 60 people have already been killed. Yet, on all official report, you see it refers to 3,000 deaths.  The data on this crisis is underreported due to so many factors (blackouts in the country and the difficulties faced by humanitarian organizations).”

UN Agencies have to raise their voices. The horrible things that are happening fall within the jurisdiction of various UN agencies but yet we are not seeing the sense of urgency that ought to be applied to this case.

“UNICEF for example ought to be shouting on rooftops with regards to the plight of the children caught in this conflict. UN Women (we hear about prostitution, violence against women) should be out there high lightening the plight of women, children and young girls as a result of the crisis,” Dr Fomunyoh added.

“WHO, we have heard about the burning of health facilities, armed groups or soldiers in uniforms going into health facilities allegedly looking for members of armed groups. These are things that have to be talked about by UN agencies to bring more credibility to the reporting we see on the ground.”

Speaking on the role of the US administration, Christopher Fomunyoh says the new administration has started on the right foot. President Joe Biden has made several moves that shows that the US is back to lead the way in terms of democracy. The Secretary of state, Anthony Blinken in his confirmation made specific references to Cameroon as one of the priority areas of concern.

“Congress has an important role to play in bringing an end to the crisis. We are fortunate to see that for the first time in American history the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee is an African-American, who knows the continent,” Dr Fomunyoh stated while adding that “I hope that he will use his influence so that the executive get the resources that they need to be able to implement policies that will bring peace in Cameroon.”

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Rep. Bass Introduces Legislation To Increase Diversity Within State Department
February 18, 2021 | 0 Comments
Congressmember Karen Bass (D-CA), is Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Global Human rights
Congressmember Karen Bass (D-CA), is Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Global Human rights

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressmember Karen Bass (D-CA), Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Global Human rights, re-introduced the Represent America Abroad Act of 2021 to ensure that the U.S. Foreign Service reflects the rich composition of the American citizenry. The legislation establishes a program to identify, attract and welcome diverse mid-career professionals into the Foreign Service.

During the 116th Congress, the Represent America Abroad Act in 2020 received bipartisan support and was co-sponsored by 117 Members of Congress. The bill was passed by the House Foreign Affairs Committee in a unanimous voice vote last year.

“The Biden administration’s intentional push to put racial equity and diversity at the center of every facet of their policy agenda is absolutely crucial to the success of their initiatives,” said Congressmember Bass. “This bill is consistent with that effort. To have a successful foreign policy, our foreign service must look like America. The Foreign Service Officer workforce must mirror our commitment to diversity and inclusion in order to effectively advance American values on the world stage. For years, the State Department has expressed a commitment to building a workforce in that vision. I look forward to working with both the State Department and my colleagues here in Congress to increase the diversity at the mid-career and senior levels among our diplomatic corps.”

The Represent America Abroad Act of 2021 would establish a program known as the “Represent America Abroad Mid-career Foreign Service Entry Program”. The program is to be created no later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of the bill with the mission of ensuring that our country’s diplomatic workforce reflects the diverse composition of the United States.

Last year, the Government Accountability Office released a report suggesting that the State Department look at the longstanding issues contributing to its diversity problems and do a better job of addressing barriers to equal opportunity in its workforce. In December, Congressmember Bass called for the passage of this bill in an op-ed published by Foreign Policy. She wrote, in part:

“..,passing this bill is a vital step for building diversity, restoring the career ranks, and enabling better U.S. diplomacy. And the face America presents abroad—including, crucially, in Africa, Asia, and Latin America—will at last begin to look more like the country we actually are.”

Read the full bill here.

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Kenya:Deputy President Ruto skips Executive meeting at the State House
February 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Deputy President Ruto
Deputy President Ruto

Deputy President William Ruto was conspicuously absent during the executive meeting led by President Uhuru Kenyatta at the State House in Nairobi.

 The reason why the second in command snubbed the meeting is yet to be established, but speculations state that a fall-out could have triggered Ruto’s absence with his boss.

Ruto has openly differed with President Uhuru Kenyatta in the calls for a referendum. The deputy president has maintained that the constitution amendment pushed by Kenyatta and his handshake brother Raila Odinga is not a priority for Kenyans.

Prior, the Head of State had accused Ruto of campaigning instead of helping him fulfil Jubilee’s government promises to citizens.

 In an attempt to curb early campaigns, he cracked the whip on Ruto allies holding senior positions in the government both in the Senate and the National Assembly alleged to be driving Ruto’s agenda.

Consequently, last week President Kenyatta dared his assistant to resign, accusing him of doublespeak.

“On one hand, he is saying the government has failed, and on the other hand, he is saying we as a government have done this and that development. That is doublespeak; you can’t be speaking of the failures of a government where you serve while at the same time outlining what you refer to as we have achieved as a government. You better resign,” ” said President Kenyatta.

Meanwhile, the Thursday meeting at the State House brought together Cabinet Secretaries, Chief Administrative Secretaries and Principal Secretaries. They deliberated on the status of ongoing National Government programmes covering Big 4 Agenda and Vision 2030 flagship projects.

State House spokesperson Kanze Dena said President outlined his vision and priorities for this year, including the completion of ongoing Government projects and programmes across all sectors and regions of the country.

Kenyatta also directed the officials to ensure adequate public resource utilisation in service delivery, noting Kenyans must always get the highest value return for their money.

The President appealed to the officials to embrace teamwork and unity of purpose to deliver the promise of a better and prosperous Kenya for all.

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Kenyan lecturer Prof Catherine Ngila Bags L’Oréal-UNESCO Award
February 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Prof Catherine Ngila
Prof Catherine Ngila

Kenyan lecturer Prof Catherine Ngila is one of the five women recognized by L’Oréal-Unesco 2021.

The five were awarded for their contributions in mathematics, astrophysics, chemistry, and informatics globally during the International Day of Women and Girls in Science held on February 11.

Prof Ngila, the acting Executive Director of the African Academy of Sciences, was recognized for introducing, developing, and applying nanotechnology-based analytical methods to monitor water pollutants.

Her innovation is essential for the development of water resource management without degrading the environment.

The other four women are Prof Kyojo Nozaki, a professor of Chemistry in Tokyo Japan, Professor Shafi Goldwasser, the Director of the Simons Institute for Theory of Computing and professor in electrical and computer science in MIT USA; Prof Franscoise Combes, chair of Galaxies and Cosmology in France, and Prof Alicia Dickenstein, a mathematics professor at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The former Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of Academic and Student Affairs (DVC-AA) at Riara University holds a bachelor’s degree in Education. She also has Masters of Science in Chemistry from Kenyatta University and a Ph.D. in Analytical Environmental Chemistry from the University of South Wales, Australia.

According to Unesco Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences Shamila Nair Bedouelle, attracting women to a scientific or technological discipline is a big challenge.

“We must also know how to retain them, ensuring that their careers are not strewn with obstacles that their achievements are recognized and supported by the international scientific community,” she noted.

The awards are part of the 23rd international prize for women in science.

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Kenya’s Amendment Bill 2020 gathers pace
February 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

The race to pass the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2020, also known as the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) referendum Bill, is gaining momentum.

The County Assemblies are now the centre of the focus in the push for the constitution amendment. Last month, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) passed the draft Bill to the Members of County Assemblies for approval.

At least 24 County Assemblies of the 47 are required to give the Bill a nod before it goes to the National Assembly.

By Thursday, February 18, eight Counties had passed the Bill, the latest being Kisii County.

The Assembly approved the Bill on Thursday, according to Speaker Amos Onderi.

Other Counties that have passed the BBI referendum Bill are Trans Nzoia, West Pokot, Busia, Siaya, Kisumu, Homa Bay, and Kajiado  County Assemblies.

Only Baringo County has rejected the Bill.

It is being projected that Counties from the deputy president William Ruto’s backyard, such as Uasin Gishu, Nandi, Bomet, and Kericho, will reject the Bill.

Ruto has publicly rejected calls for a referendum, claiming those behind it are driven by selfish ambitions.

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Terror suspect Paul Rusesabagina denies Rwandan citizenship
February 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti

Rusesabagina faces nine crimes including the formation of an irregular armed group, membership of a terrorist group, financing terrorism, murder as an act of terrorism, abduction as an act of terrorism, and armed robbery as an act of terrorism. Photo credit Clement Uwiringiyimana/Reuters
Rusesabagina faces nine crimes including the formation of an irregular armed group, membership of a terrorist group, financing terrorism, murder as an act of terrorism, abduction as an act of terrorism, and armed robbery as an act of terrorism. Photo credit Clement Uwiringiyimana/Reuters

Terror suspect Paul Rusesabagina has objected to the jurisdiction of the High Court Chamber for International and Cross-Border Crimes to try him in a hearing where he is accused of terrorism-related crimes.

Rusesabagina who appeared in court alongside 20 other co-accused on Wednesday said he is a Belgian citizen and requested the court to change that his case file.

He also prayed to the court to have his case transferred to Belgium if Rwanda accuses him of any crime saying Rwandan courts had no jurisdiction to try him.

The 66-year-old was a leader of the Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD) in French acronym. It is a coalition of opposition groups, which has an armed wing known as the National Liberation Forces (FLN) also in French.

He was arrested in August 2020 when he believed to have been flying to Bujumbura’s capital of Burundi only to find himself at the Kigali International he allegedly brought himself to Kigali International airport.

The case was heard by judges from the Nyanza based High Court Chamber for International and Cross-Border Crimes located in the Southern Province but used the Supreme Court chambers to allow more people to attend given the bigger space of the court.

The court proceedings were live-streamed on YouTube channels on the links provided.

It also attracted both local and international media with some livestreaming it. 

Rusesabagina and co-accused coming to court in Kigali on Wednesday. Photo credit The New Times
Rusesabagina and co-accused coming to court in Kigali on Wednesday. Photo credit The New Times

The accusations

Rusesabagina is accused alongside 20 other suspects including the famous Callixte Nsabimana alias Sankara who was the Spokesperson of FLN and 19 other suspects all but one are male.

Rusesabagina faces nine crimes including the formation of an irregular armed group, membership of a terrorist group, financing terrorism, murder as an act of terrorism, abduction as an act of terrorism, and armed robbery as an act of terrorism.

The prosecution alleges that Rusesabagina’s MRCD through its armed wing FLN launched the attacks in Rwanda’s Southern Province through Nyungwe forests and killed civilians, injured others, and committed other crimes.

The attacks were carried out between 2018 and 2019 and at least nine people in the Nyabimata sector in Nyaruguru district were killed according to the prosecution.

 FLN had earlier claimed responsibility of the attacks.

Presenting his defense, Rusesabagina whose lawyer is Gatera Gashabana admitted the details read out by prosecution as to who he was such as names, place and time of birth, parent’s names among other details but denied being Rwandan saying he acquired Belgian citizenship after denouncing the one of Rwanda.

“I am a Belgian citizen and have repeated it several times this being the fifth one, this should be changed in my case file,” Rusesabagina told a three-bench Judges.

Lawyer Gashabana told the court that his client was appearing in a wrong court stressing the Rwandan courts had no judicial competency to try him.

“Given that Rusesabagina has no Rwandan citizenship but he is a Belgian citizen, I find that the court has no competency to try him and your only responsibility should be to send him back to Belgium’s court,” said the seasoned lawyer.

Prayers denied

The government was presented by three prosecutors led by  Deputy Prosecutor General Angelique Habyarimana who Rusesabagina’s claims of not being a Rwanda does not strip Rwandan courts of the powers so long as the crimes were committed on Rwandan territory.

The prosecutors also said that there is nowhere in official documents Rusesabagina has legally denounced Rwandan citizenship which is the one of origin.

While Rusesabagina said that the prosecution in Rwanda had referred his case to Belgium prosecutors before and they should the latter proceed, the prosecution said Rwanda had issued an arrest warrant against the suspect.

The prosecution said there were two indictments against Rusesabagina, one issued in 2010 and sent to its Belgian counterparts while it also issued an international arrest warrant against the suspect in 2018 according to Bonavanture Ruberwa, one of the prosecutors, said.

After spending more than five hours, the presiding judges said they deliberated on Rusesabagina’s objection on which they could not pronounce as it raised concerns of the court’s jurisdiction.

The hearing will resume on February 26, according to the judge.

Rusesabagina and co-accused coming to court in Kigali on Wednesday. Photo credit The New TimesRusesabagina (C) along with other terror suspects during the hearing in Kigali. Photo by The New Times
Rusesabagina and co-accused coming to court in Kigali on Wednesday. Photo credit The New TimesRusesabagina (C) along with other terror suspects during the hearing in Kigali. Photo by The New Times

Prime co-accused pin Rusesabagina

One of Rusesabagina’s co-accused Callixte Nsabimana has pinned Rusesabagina who referred to as ‘my boss’ saying he was surprised by hearing that Rusesabagina was not a Rwandan and yet he coordinated and financed attacks with a belief of becoming the Rwandan president once they win and overflow the current government.

 “I was Rusesabagina’s vice-president in (MRCD) and I wonder how he claims not to be a Rwandan while his aim was to become the president when we launched the rebel group,” Nsabimana who pleaded guilty of all 16 accusations said.

Nsabimana prayed to the court to ignore Rusesabagina’s claims and proceed with the trial saying he could not be the victim of the delay. He was arrested in 2018 and has since been in prison.

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A Lifetime Experience for Me -2nd Runner Up Ethel Mupambwa from Zimbabwe
February 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

It was a lifetime experience, a set legacy for my kids and the upcoming generation in Zimbabwe,says Ethel Mupambwa .
It was a lifetime experience, a set legacy for my kids and the upcoming generation in Zimbabwe, says Ethel Mupambwa .

Having grown in a patriarch rural area, the inspiration behind MoneyMart was that I wanted a business which could help women uplift their small projects says Ethel Mupambwa, from Zimbabwe who emerged as the 2nd runner up. It was a lifetime experience for me, and our clients will see change, says Mupamwa.

Our clients are going to receive an excellent service without delays like they would experience in the past due to constrained cash shortages. MoneyMart is going to be a digital MFI, and the prize money will assist in the development of an AI digital lending software,” said Ethel Mupamwa of plans going forward.

Ethel Mupambwa recently emerged 2nd Runner up in the Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) Awards sponsored by the Jack Ma Foundation with cash prize of $150,000, what was your reaction to this news?

I was thrilled to say the least. I could not believe that seriously, my name is in the Top 3. It was a lifetime experience, a set legacy for my kids and the Zimbabwean upcoming generation.

How did you hear about the ABH and what motivated you to this a shot, your instincts or the conviction that you had the potential of making a winning proposition or pitch?

I found about ABH through emails from Funds For NGOs updates. When l went through the requirements for participation, I got the conviction that I had the winning proposition as l am consciously contributing to specific Sustainable Development Goals.

You are Co-Founder and Executive Director of Moneymart, can you shed some light on the company and what pushed you into micro finance?

Having grown in a patriarch rural area, the inspiration behind MoneyMart was that I wanted a business which could help women uplift their small projects- I wanted to help ANY project, no matter how small, even something as small as a tomato-vendor by the road side in her location. I desire to see women everywhere become the Proverbs 31 woman who is empowered to take care of her own family, a woman who “considers a piece of land and buys it herself’- a financially empowered woman. I believe that EVERYONE WINS when women have equal access to economic opportunity. As a young woman growing in Zimbabwe, I have always been challenged to step into the gap to create the future that l want to see because l realized am one of those our nation has been waiting for to change the lives of our societies. MoneyMart is a leading microfinance institution on a mission to transform people’s lives by creating sustainable wealth through the provision of unique, well researched financial solutions.

May we know what impact initiatives like Moneymart have on the economy in Zimbabwe?

Zimbabwe has been marred by economic strife over the past two decades such that, 84% of the working population is        in the informal sector, with 53% of business owners being women. The biggest challenge these businesses face is lack of formal financial services and limited financial knowledge. And to realize our economic growth, there is a need to introduce financing vehicles that can help realize these entrepreneurs grow as they contribute a significant percentage to the GDP and promote decent work. MoneyMart Finance is innovatively making sure that micro-entrepreneurs are being financially included.

In addition, we entered the renewable energy space with a primary objective to distribute quality Solar-Home-Systems (Solar-Lighting-Kits) on credit to people living off the power grid. MMF plans to distribute over 10,000 units to households and businesses in rural areas and peri-urban areas which are off the power grid.

What are some of the challenges Moneymart has faced over the years and with regards to 2020, how did COVID 19 affect your activities?

The biggest challenge over the years was ability to raise patient capital for the business in consideration to the hyperinflationary environment we were operating in, more so being a financial institution. The biggest impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic were difficulties in disbursements, collection of reimbursements and meeting with clients face-to-face, and reorganizing internal systems and flow of work. In addition, the impact also extended to our clients with the country lockdown; many micro-entrepreneurs not being able to report for their day-to-day duties.

In what way could the government in Zimbabwe be more helpful in supporting the kind of services offered by Moneymart and others?

In my opinion, Zimbabwe has suffered more because of inconsistent policies. I believe if our government continue to be consistent, it could be more helpful especially for the upcoming entrepreneurs as long-term plans could be made and acted upon. However, I also want to applaud the Government for the support it gives to women in the country to the extent of opening a Women’s Bank. It shows how much they believe in women entrepreneurs and this gives so much support to services offered by MoneyMart as it thrives to make sure women are financially included.

With $150,000 in prize money, what is going to change for Ethel Mupambwa and Moneymart?

It is the change that is going to happen to our clients rather. Our clients are going to receive an excellent service without delays like they would experience in the past due to constrained cash shortages. MoneyMart is going to be a digital MFI, and the prize money will assist in the development of an AI digital lending software.

There are many young people in Zimbabwe who now look up to you as a model, what advise do you have for them in challenging times the country is going through economically?

My advice to young people has always been that “Fortune favours the Brave.” Be a solution provider to the people around you. Challenging times have vast opportunities that they come with; those challenges need a young generation to solve them. The first step is to just start!

MoneyMart is going to be a digital MFI, and the prize money will assist in the development of an AI digital lending software says, Ethel
MoneyMart is going to be a digital MFI, and the prize money will assist in the development of an AI digital lending software says, Ethel

Speaking broadly, what role do you think initiatives like the ABH could play in moving Africa forward?

These initiatives play a fundamental role in moving Africa forward. Exposure of new things and networking with other experienced and world-renowned entrepreneurs catapults one’s ideas to unimaginable heights. The journey becomes bearable if you are cheered up by a great people who have been on the journey before, who will be giving you confidence that it truly can be achieved. The assistance in financial resource goes a long way in making sure ideas are swiftly implemented.

We are doing this interview at a time the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, AfCTA has entered its operational phase, do you share in the optimism it has generated and any opportunities you see in it for Moneymart?

I share in the optimism AfCTA has generated. For MoneyMart Finance, it means a broader market in Africa. Its biggest goal for inclusive and sustainable development in Africa is what we all have been waiting for as an upcoming generation.

*Culled from February Issue of PAV Magazine

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The ABH Experience Was Both Challenging And Gratifying- Oluwasoga Oni from Nigeria, 1st Runner Up.
February 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Our vision is to shift African healthcare from sick care to more personalized, continuous, and preventative healthcare for Africa's next billion, says Oluwasoga Oni.
Our vision is to shift African healthcare from sick care to more personalized, continuous, and preventative healthcare for Africa’s next billion, says Oluwasoga Oni.

The competition had so many talented entrepreneurs in it and it is a privilege to be one of the Top 3 winners, says Oluwasoga Oni, who emerged as 1st runner up. Describing the experience as both challenging and gratifying, Oluwasoga Oni says he enjoyed interacting with judges at every stage of the competition and intends to keep in touch with many of them.

The CEO & Co-Founder, MDaas Globalsays their big vision is to shift African healthcare from sick care to more personalized, continuous, and preventative healthcare for Africa’s next billion.

“Being an organization that builds tech enabled diagnostic centers, we are going to use these funds to build at least 3 or four additional diagnostic centers in tier 2 to tier 3 cities in Nigeria. More of these in additional locations will bring high quality diagnostics to the underserved communities,” says Oluwasoga Oni on plans for MDaaS Global going forward.

Oluwasoga Oni is CEO & Co-Founder, MDaaS Global could we start this interview with an introduction of MDaaS Global, and the vision that led to its creation?

MDaaS Global builds and operates diagnostic facilities in clinically underserved communities in Nigeria. Our centers provide high quality diagnostic services such as radiology (ultrasound & x ray), pathology and cardiology (ECHO, ECG) and serve as the centralized diagnostic department for many small and medium sized hospitals and clinics around the communities we operate in. Our vision is providing high quality and affordable healthcare for African’s next billion by building critical health infrastructure and services in places that need it the most. We launched our first facility in Ibadan, Nigeria in 2017 and have since expanded to 4 more locations in Lagos, Ilorin, Osogbo and Abuja.

When was it created and what impact has it had on the healthcare sector in Nigeria, any numbers or statistics that you want to share?

We launched originally in 2016 as a medical equipment provider before eventually pivoting to a diagnostic service provider in 2017. Since our pivot and launch in Ibadan, we have served over 33,000 patients across four states. About 70% of our patient population are women and about 55% of women of reproductive age.

How expensive is the technology that you use in running your operations and where has your funding come from?

A lot of technology we used in running our centers are open sourced and/or off the shelf technology platforms. We are also currently using building an internal diagnostic management platform to effectively manage our centers. We raised investment from a variety of sources. In the initial stage, it was mostly family and friends, but we have since raised venture capital for prominent African’s VCs such as Consonance Investment Managers Ventures Platform, Future Africa Fund and Flying Doctors Investment Company and as well as international organizations such as Techstars, FINCA Ventures etc.

You operate in a country where power is an issue, what impact has the power crisis had on your operations?

Getting constant power supply from the grid is almost impossible at the moment in Nigeria. As a result, we have had to supplement our grid power with power generators which of course increase our cost of operations. Unfortunately, this is the reality for many Nigerian businesses like ours.

You recently emerged as 1st Runner Up in the 2020 Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) Awards sponsored by the Jack Ma Foundation, how was this news received by Oluwasoga Oni?

I was very excited to be one of the winners of the competition out of over 22,000 contestants who applied across the continent. It is quite exhilarating to be one of the top finalists, particularly given how competitive it was. The ABH experience was both challenging and gratifying. The competition had so many talented entrepreneurs in it and it is a privilege to be one of the Top 3 winners. I also really enjoyed interacting with the judges at every single stage of the competition and intend to keep in touch with many of them.

How did you hear about the ABH and was emerging as runner up with $250,000 cash prize an outcome you envisaged?

The winner of the competition last year (Temie Giwa-Tubosun, Founder & CEO of LifeBank) was Nigerian and also worked in healthcare. It was all over the news when she won. Seeing that made me aware of the competition and of course, Jack Ma is one of the best entrepreneurs in the world and I really wanted a chance to talk and learn from him and I did.

With the hefty cash prize and newfound fame, what is going to change for Oluwasoga Oni and the MDaaS Global?

The funds from the competition are being put towards furthering our mission and vision at MDaaS Global which is building more diagnostics facilities in clinically underserved areas across Nigeria. Being an organization that builds tech enabled diagnostic centers, we are going to use these funds to build at least 3 or four additional diagnostic centers in tier 2 to tier 3 cities in Nigeria. More of these in additional locations will bring high quality diagnostics to the underserved communities. We also plan to find more communities that need the kind of diagnostics that we provide. Our big vision at MDaaS is to shift African healthcare from sick care to more personalized, continuous, and preventative healthcare for Africa’s next billion. Additionally, the ABH competition came with great learning lessons as well which we will definitely draw from as we continue to reach out across Nigeria.

When you juxtapose the challenges facing Nigeria and Africa with the quality of the business initiatives that were pitched by you and others, what future do you see for the continent?

Just looking at the quantity and quality of entrepreneurs in this competition, I am very excited about the future of Africa. There are a lot of young people building businesses that are solving important challenges across the length and breadth of the continent, from healthcare to education and youth development. It is inspiring to see, and I should say the sky is the limit, given the ABH competition, which is running a 10-year commitment to inspire, train and support entrepreneurs in Africa, to build inclusive businesses models that can create jobs and economic opportunity for the continent.

Entrepreneurs at all levels should seize this amazing opportunity and consider taking part in the Africa’s Business Heroes competition this year and in the future.

The competition had so many talented entrepreneurs in it and it is a privilege to be one of the Top 3 winners,says Oluwasoga Oni
The competition had so many talented entrepreneurs in it and it is a privilege to be one of the Top 3 winners,says Oluwasoga Oni

Any word for the Jack Ma Foundation that created and funded this initiative and all those who worked in diverse phases of the 2020 ABH Awards?

The real MVP of the ABH competition was the Jack Ma Foundation Team who moved ahead with this competition despite the pandemic and all of the challenges that came with coordinating the competition across multiple African countries. I (and many other African’s entrepreneurs) are lucky to have such a superstar team dedicated to supporting African entrepreneurship. No proper words can express how grateful myself and my team are for the opportunity to be part of this initiative.

To many in Nigeria and Africa who now see in you a mentor and will like to emulate your success, what message for them, and any tips for future contestants of the ABH Awards?

The key advice I have for other African entrepreneurs is to learn how to own their narrative and tell their own story. I believe that this was key to our success in this competition. Every great idea needs believers and supporters and having a great story about “why it matters” is critical to getting others to believe in the vision and mission of the company. Africa is on the rise, existing and aspiring entrepreneurs across the continent must strive to gain knowledge, educate themselves and keep up with new trends to stay competitive. Research and innovation are key, and when backed up with the right knowledge, skills, and resources it is possible for any entrepreneur to thrive and bring real change to the continent, while inspiring the next generation.

*Culled from February Issue of PAV Magazine

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ABH Helps In Highlighting The Brilliance, Determination & Capabilities of Africans- Chebet Lesan from Kenya,2020 Winner.
February 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

The hard work for us has been consistency, consistency in product development, customer satisfaction, growth and improvement, says Chebet Lesan
The hard work for us has been consistency, consistency in product development, customer satisfaction, growth and improvement, says Chebet Lesan

Our phones didn’t stop ringing for about two weeks with congratulatory messages, says Chebet Lesan who won the 2020 ABH awards. The Founder and CEO of BrightGreen Renewable Energy believes that the ABH program will help to highlight the brilliance , determination and capabilities of African people.

“The hard work for us has been consistency, consistency in product development, customer satisfaction, growth and improvement,” says Chebet.

“Cooking Energy Poverty is commonly experienced across several African countries, meaning that the opportunity for our growth is very big. Our focus is to increase our market share within the East African Community first, as we build longer term plans to enter the larger African Market,” Chebet said on plans going forward,

Chebet Lesan is Founder and CEO of BrightGreen Renewable Energy, could we start this interview with an introduction of the company?

BrightGreen Renewable Energy works to increase access to clean cooking energy to the most vulnerable populations across Africa. We recycle farm waste commonly known as biomass, into energy efficient fuel blocks, suitable for cooking and heating. Our product helps families to cook safer, cheaper and sustainably. We have started our work in Kenya and are looking to expand our impact across this region.

How did you conceive the idea of creating BrightGreen Renewable Energy and what were some of the challenges you faced?

Charcoal and firewood are heavily used fuels in many kitchens across the African continent, about 70%. It’s a challenge I experienced in my home, and one that I thought did not receive the kind of attention that it deserved. Starting and running BrightGreen has been a labour commitment, focus and determination to solve a problem in my community, and to be a voice to a widespread problem in our continent.

You recently emerged as the winner of the Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) 2020 Awards sponsored by the Jack Ma Foundation, with a cash prize $300,000, how did you receive the news?

We were very excited and humbled at the same time, it was a tough competition!

What was the reaction of your staff, family, and even the Kenyan government to this landmark achievement?

There was so much excitement and encouragement! Our phones didn’t stop ringing for about two weeks with congratulatory messages. As Top 10 Finalists in the competition, we had reached out to our community and asked them to support us to get to the top, and indeed we received great backing! Our community anxiously waited for the results, and when they were announced, they were overjoyed!

Your company has its base in Kenya, what prospects are there and with what possible timeline to expand to other countries in East Africa and the rest of Africa?

Cooking Energy Poverty is commonly experienced across several African countries, meaning that the opportunity for our growth is very big. Our focus is to increase our market share within the East African Community first, as we build longer term plans to enter the larger African Market.

What words of wisdom, what tips do you have for those other young people in Kenya and East Africa who look up to you as a model and will like to emulate your success story?

Hard work is an integral part to success. The hard work for us has been in consistency. Consistency in product development, in customer satisfaction, in growth, in improvement etc. We’re always looking around us to see what resources we have that can help us to be better, more impactful and more efficient in the work that we do. As young business, we have focused on building a strong business model, finding the right team to work with and taking care of the customers we have, even as we seek out for new ones. When starting a business, it’s absolutely okay to start small, with the resources you have, and give it time to grow.

 For Chebet and her team, the focus is to increase their market share within the East African Community first, and build longer term plans for the larger African Market.
For Chebet and her team, the focus is to increase their market share within the East African Community first, and build longer term plans for the larger African Market.

We end this interview with an opportunity for you to say a word to the Jack Ma Foundation and to others across Africa and the world with the potential for similar initiatives that could bring out the genius in many young Africans, what message to them?

 We are extremely grateful to the Jack Ma Foundation and the Africa Business Heroes Program, for recognizing the potential and amazing work that many African entrepreneurs are doing in this continent. I believe this program will help to highlight the brilliance, determination and capabilities of the African people.

*Culled from the February Issue of PAV Magazine

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We Hope To Spark A Movement Around Entrepreneurship In Africa-Zahra Baitie
February 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

We hope to spark a movement around entrepreneurship in Africa so that an entire ecosystem of stakeholders work hand in hand to create new opportunities together,says Zahra Baitie.
We hope to spark a movement around entrepreneurship in Africa so that an entire ecosystem of stakeholders work hand in hand to create new opportunities together,says Zahra Baitie.

“Our hope is that in 10 years, we will have identified, spotlighted and supported 100 entrepreneur heroes from Africa whose stories will inspire the continent and beyond,” says Zahra Baitie, Partnerships & Program Manager of Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI) at Jack Ma Foundation.

Discussing the ABH Awards with PAV, Zahra says in two years the sum of $2.5 million has been disbursed in grant funds to 20 inspiring African entrepreneur heroes from 11 countries.

With plans underway for additional funds on training, to developing a platform to connect the circa 30000 entrepreneurs who have applied to the program with each other as well as with investors, service providers and mentors, the ABH awards are on course to make a profoundly consequential impact on the development and economic landscape in Africa.

“We hope to spark a movement around entrepreneurship in Africa so that an entire ecosystem of stakeholders work hand in hand to create new opportunities together,” says Zahra Baitie

Thanks for accepting to grant this interview, could you start by introducing Jack Ma Foundation and the Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) Awards for us?

It’s a pleasure – thank you for providing us the opportunity to introduce the Africa’s Business Heroes prize competition. The prize is the Jack Ma Foundation’s flagship program in Africa and was launched in 2018 with the mission to spotlight entrepreneurs from across Africa to showcase their talent and businesses.

Every year, the competition identifies and awards grant funding to 10 entrepreneur heroes. Their stories and pitches are given a global platform in the finale, which is televised as the “Africa’s Business Heroes” Show and distributed across Africa via local and pan-African broadcasters such as StarTimes and DSTV and across the globe via YouTube & Youku. We hope this Show can serve as a learning opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs as they watch our top 10 pitch to legendary business leaders like Strive Masiyiwa and Ibukun Awosika first-hand.

Over the course of 10 years, we will recognize 100 outstanding African entrepreneurs and allocate US$100 million in grant funding, training programs, and support for the broad African entrepreneurial ecosystem. We are committed to give entrepreneurs across Africa a platform to develop their business ideas and inspire others to pursue entrepreneurship.

The ABH is in its second year now, may we know how much has gone out in prize money since its inception?

To date, we have disbursed $2.5 million in grant funds to 20 inspiring African entrepreneur heroes from 11 countries.

In our inaugural year, we awarded $1 million to our Top 10 Heroes. Following the success of our 2019 Grand Finale and ABH Show, we pledged additional funds to the ABH program bringing the total size of our fund to $100 million and increased the yearly prize pool for the Top 10 from $1 million to $1.5 million. Now, the 1st Place Hero wins a $300,000 grant; the 2nd place Hero wins $250,000, the third place Hero wins a $150,000 all other 7 Heroes gain a $100,000 in grant funds.

In addition, we will be investing additional funds on training for entrepreneurs and developing a platform to connect the ~30,000 entrepreneurs who have applied to our program to each other as well as to investors, service providers and mentors. We hope to spark a movement around entrepreneurship in Africa so that an entire ecosystem of stakeholders work hand in hand to create new opportunities together.

Can you walk us through what a typical selection process looks like, Africa has 54 countries, and how is the process carried out in a way that it reaches the length and breadth of the continent in a manner that is equitable?

Our judging process is comprised of 4 stages and is deliberately rigorous to ensure both fairness and quality in our assessment process. Round 1 is an online assessment of the written applications, from which we select our Top 50 finalists. In Round 2, our Top 50 finalists undergo in-depth online video call interviews with our judges who then determine our Top 20 finalists. Our Top 20 finalists subsequently undergo a due diligence process by Pricewaterhouse Coopers before proceeding to our Semi-Finale pitches where they pitch a 7-person panel comprised of industry leaders, investors and renowned entrepreneurs. This panel then identifies our Top 10 Heroes who go on to the Grand Finale.

Importantly, at every stage we work with our network of over 150 judges from across the globe and a range of industries to assess applicants with a scoring rubric, which allows for a standardized assessment process. We also ensure that in the earlier stages of the judging process, we match candidates to judges based on industry alignment and geographical relevance to ensure that local contexts are factored into the assessment process.

May we know the judges who made the final selection for this and are they the same each year or the Foundation appoints different members of the panel?

Our Grand Finale judging panel consists of global business legends who provide our finalists insightful feedback and ask them provoking questions. While the line-up may alternate throughout the years, the panel will always be comprised of renowned business leaders. In our 2020 edition, our Grand Finale judging panel consisted of:

  • Strive Masiyiwa – Founder & Chairman of Econet Group
  • Madam Ibukun Awosika – Chairwoman of the First Bank of Nigeria Limited & CEO of the Chair Centre group.
  • Joe Tsai – Executive Vice Chairman, Alibaba Group
  • Lucy Peng – Co-Founder & Partner of Alibaba Group and Executive Chairwoman of Lazada Group

What other follow up is done by the Foundation to support winners of the ABH awards in their entrepreneurial growth?

The ABH journey does not end at the Grand Finale or the moment we hand over the cheques. We work closely with the winners as they continue to grow and find success, and the program continues to run training, education and networking opportunities beyond the finale.

 Part of this means hosting regular community check-ins with our finalists to facilitate greater collaboration. As a result of the prize, we’ve already seen our heroes build partnerships and cooperation with each other across different markets. For example, two heroes from 2019, Kevine Kagrimpindu of Uzuri K&Y and Moulaye Taboure of Afrikrea worked together to launch an online store for Uzuri K&Y on Afrikrea, expanding her reach across the globe.

The program also provides learning opportunities via the Alibaba e-founders fellowship course, which several of our Heroes have indicated has been pivotal to their business development. Beyond this, we also look to provide our finalists with a spotlight to ensure their stories are spotlighted and shared with global audiences. Lastly, we also aim to connect our finalists with investors where possible and have already made promising introductions between our finalists and Venture Capital firms. We look to do more of this in the years to come especially as we develop an online platform to bring different stakeholders together.

The second year of the awards coincided as well with the shock of COVID 19, how did this affect the smooth functioning of the ABH?

The COVID-19 pandemic threw us some challenges but also presented novel opportunities to us. It forced us to go fully digital. For example, we had to pivot from a physical roadshow across a few African countries to a completely online launch.

With this online launch we were able to engage with over 4,000 entrepreneurs from across Africa. We also had to transition from an in-person Semi-Finale and Grand Finale to create online experiences that were rich and dynamic. Our Grand Finale connected 13 locations from around the world. We also created in-country studios and leveraged a custom-built platform on DingTalk to ensure that the experience went beyond your regular online event.

What kind of change does the Jack Ma Foundation hope to see in Africa after ten years that the Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI) is designed for?

Our hope is that in 10 years, we will have identified, spotlighted and supported 100 entrepreneur heroes from Africa – heroes whose stories will inspire the continent and beyond. We hope to create a network of changemakers who can inspire the next generation of African entrepreneurs to make a difference in their local communities and are working to solve the most pressing problems, as well as building a more sustainable and inclusive economy for the future. Ultimately, we hope to see these Heroes working together to create pan-African solutions and digital ecosystems that help Africa to chart a new path and circumvent some of the development challenges it faces.

In two years the sum of $2.5 million has been disbursed in grant funds to 20 inspiring African entrepreneur heroes from 11 countries, says Zahra
In two years the sum of $2.5 million has been disbursed in grant funds to 20 inspiring African entrepreneur heroes from 11 countries, says Zahra

May we know the kind of feedback the Foundation has received and cooperation it is getting from African countries?

We are encouraged to have received widespread support from across Africa. Firstly, we received applications from all 54 African countries. Secondly, we are very grateful to have received support from various heads of state and governments from across Africa from our inception to now including Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Senegal, and the Ivory Coast.

For those who read this interview and hear about the ABH for the first time, how can they try their luck, any information available on the third edition?

We welcome African entrepreneurs from all sectors that have businesses that are at least 3 years old and legally registered to try their luck! As one our Semi-Finale judges said at our 2020 Launch, “fortune favors the bold.”

We want to make sure the prize is as inclusive as possible, and applications will be open in English as well as French to African entrepreneurs regardless of sector, age or gender. Aspiring applicants can visit our website: africabusinessheroes.org and our social media accounts: @africa_heroes (Twitter) & @africabusinessheroes (Instagram, Facebook & LinkedIn) for information and to sign up to receive updates.

We will launch our 2021 applications in March, and we’ll notify all subscribers to our newsletter and our social media accounts once it opens. In the meantime, I encourage all interested applicants to learn about our past Heroes on our website and social media accounts to gain inspiration.

*Culled From February Issue of PAV Magazine

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A Lifeline for African Entrepreneurs from the Jack Ma Foundation ABH Awards
February 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

For a continent full of potentials but limited in opportunities, the African Business Heroes -ABH prize competition and show organized by the Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI), the Jack Ma Foundation’s flagship philanthropic program in Africa, is proving to be a veritable lifeline for many Africans.

With the aim of identifying, supporting and inspiring the next generation of African entrepreneurs making a difference in their community, the ABH awards have generated tremendous excitement across the continent.  From $1 million in the inaugural edition in 2019, the laureates of the second edition in 2020 shared a total of $1.5 million in prize money.

Open to entrepreneurs across all sectors and African countries, the ABH awards have a special focus on those building up their local communities and working to solve the most pressing problems.

From three different countries, in three different regions, two females and one male, with projects ranging from renewable energy, health and micro finances, the top three laureates of the second edition sum up the challenges and hopes of a continent on the move.

PAV revisits the 2020 edition with exclusive interviews of Zahra Baitie Partnerships & Program Manager, Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI) at the Jack Ma Foundation, winner of the Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) 2020 Awards  Chebet Lesan from Kenya, 1st Runner Up Oluwasoga Oni from Nigeria, and Ethel Mupambwa 2nd Runner up from Zimbabwe..

*Culled From February Issue of PAV Magazine

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British journalist Tom Bowker expelled from Mozambique, CPJ condemns
February 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jorge Joaquim

British journalist Tom Bowker, who edits the Zitamar portal, was this Tuesday expelled from Mozambique, following an order issued by the interior minister, after Zitamar News was deemed “non-existent” by Mozambican authorities, he announced.

Tom Bowker, his wife and their two children left Maputo for London, after being taken to Maputo International Airport by two agents from the National Migration Service (SENAMI).

” I am, yes, complying  with the expulsion order and I cannot return [to Mozambique] before 10 years,” Bowker told reporters at the entrance of Maputo International Airport.

The journalist said that he will try, through legal means, to change the decision to expel him from Mozambique.

Bowker’s first expulsion order was made orally at a meeting to which he was summoned at SENAMI’s Maputo office at the end of last month, but the official decision followed. It  came through an order signed by Interior Minister Amade Miquidade, declared the journalist.

The Zitamar editor added that the interior minister used the arguments presented in a “clarification note” by the Information Office (GABINFO), a Mozambican state entity that regulates the media in the country.

In the note, GABINFO described “irregularities” that led it to request Bowker for “the return of the accreditation card as a foreign journalist,” a decision “with the due legal consequences”.

GABINFO considered that, from the point of view of documentary records, the Zitamar portal “is non-existent, both in England and in Mozambique”, adding that the link between the latter and the firm with the same name on British soil remains to be proved.

“Zitamar News is an online publication based in Maputo, specialising in information services about Mozambique, whose contents are managed and broadcast by Thomas Andrew Bowker, from Maputo”, but without “elements of legality” that frame it either ” as a national media outlet “or as” an international news agency, “GABINFO concluded.

The subscription portal Zitamar News, written in English, follows Mozambican news, especially in the economic area, and in the last year has gained notoriety for covering the armed insurgency in Cabo Delgado, in the north of the country.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said yesterday that Mozambican authorities should reverse their decision to expel journalist Tom Bowker and allow him to work freely in the country.

“Mozambique’s expulsion and banning of journalist Tom Bowker sends a chilling message to the media community in the country,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator. “Journalists in Mozambique, especially those covering the conflict in Cabo Delgado, have been arrested, harassed, or have gone missing. Bowker’s expulsion is another example of the lengths the government will go to control reporting in Mozambique.”

In April 2020, CPJ and 16 other civil society groups wrote to Mozambique’s President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi to express concern about the human rights situation in the country, including the enforced disappearance of radio journalist Ibraimo Abú Mbaruco. Mbaruco was last heard from earlier that month when he sent a text message to a colleague saying he was “surrounded by soldiers,” CPJ documented at the time.

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Sofapaka to sign one player before the transfer window deadline
February 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Sofapaka President Elly Kalekwa
Sofapaka President Elly Kalekwa

Kenyan Premier League side Sofapaka FC will sign one local player before the transfer window shuts, announced the club.

The 2009 champions are bolstering their squad following the poor start to the season.

Sofapaka President Elly Kalekwa said they have wrapped-up their transfer business for foreign players after attaining the set quota of five.

Batoto Ba Mungu recently completed the signing of Burundian midfielder Bizimana Amissi and goalkeeper Abdoul-Moubarak Aigba.

Amisi turned out for Rukinzu FC, and Moubarak joined from AS OTR Football Club in Togo. They signed a two-year deal each.

Burundian David Nshimirimana had also joined Ken Odhiambo charges.

“We have now closed our business to sign foreign players because we have reached the required quota, we already had two in our squad, and since none of them is going out, we are done with the business,” said Kalekwa.

At the beginning of this month, Sofapaka released seven players deemed surplus to the requirements.

Those axed included Nigerian duo Promise Chinonso and Michael Karamor, Ghanian import Jedinak Nana, goalkeeper Isaiah Wakasala, defender Faina Jacobs, midfielder David Simiyu and Bryson Juma.

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Safaricom in bid to enter the Ethiopian market
February 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Safaricom has stepped up its effort to join Ethiopia’s market as the Ethiopian government tries to end monopoly in the communication sector and liberalize the country’s economy.

Ethiopia’s telecom sector transformation has Ethio Telecom, the leading supplier of telecom services in the country, and the Ethiopian Communication Authority (ECA).

The firm is among the six companies that have been shortlisted from the 12 that had expressed interest in entering the Ethiopian market by the authority.

The companies were invited to buy a 40 percent stake in Ethio Telecom as part of Ethiopia’s homegrown economic reform agenda launched in 2019.

ECA is seeking to award two foreign companies telecommunication licenses to operate within the country.

In partnership with Vodafone Group Plc and Vodacom Group Limited, the telco expressed its interest to join Ethiopia’s vast market. The three firms signed a deal to borrow up to Sh500 million (US$55.7 billion) from the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) for the project, which is expected to top the Sh111 billion mark.

“There are about five to six consortia who are qualified to bid. Bids are due to be submitted in April. We are working towards the final submission around March/April,” said Safaricom Chairman Michael Joseph.

Safaricom stated that they are ready to adhere to the Ethiopian government’s conditions to have access to Ethiopia’s huge population, which is about 110 million.

Other firms that had expressed interest are Etisalat, Axian, MTN, Orange, Saudi Telecom Company, Telkom SA, Liquid Telecom, Snail Mobile, and the two non-telecom operators, Kandu Global Telecommunications and Electromecha International Projects.

The Ethiopian Communications Authority has not disclosed the names of the shortlisted companies.

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Ten shortlisted for Kenya’s Chief Justice post
February 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Justice William Ouko is one of the shortlisted candidates
Justice William Ouko is one of the shortlisted candidates

Kenya’s Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has invited the public to give their views on ten candidates shortlisted for Chief Justice (CJ).

The commission, which is mandated to recruit a CJ and all judicial officials, said Kenyans have, up to March 3, 2021, to submit their views ahead of the candidates’ interviews in April.

Those shortlisted are Justice Said Chitembwe, Prof Patricia Mbote, Justice Martha Koome, Justice Marete Njagi, Philip Murgor, Justice Nduma Nderi, Fred Ngatia, Justice William Ouko, Dr. Wekesa Moni, and Alice Yano.

According to the JSC, nine others will also be interviewed for the position.

Thirteen applicants had sent their applications, and only ten were shortlisted for the Supreme Court judge’s position.

The post fell vacant following the retirement of the former officeholder Justice David Maraga.

Maraga retired early this year after turning 70 under Article 167(1) and 167(2) of the Constitution of Kenya.

The act states that an individual shall retire from the Office of the Chief Justice after serving for ten years or reaching 70, whichever comes first.

He was appointed Kenya’s 16th Chief Justice following the voluntary early retirement by his predecessor Dr. Willy Mutunga in 2016.

JSC is also seeking to fill the Supreme Court of Kenya (SCOK) left by Justice Jackton Ojwang.

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Safaricom’s network is the best for data and calls
February 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa
Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa

Umlaut has ranked the Safaricom’s network the best for Data and Calls in Kenya.

The East African telecommunication giant beat Telkom and Airtel for the fourth year in a row in “Drive Tests” conducted by umlaut across different country locations to assess the various mobile networks for call and data performance.

Through the “Drive Tests”, umlaut discovered Safaricom is the only mobile operator that has deployed Voice over LTE (VoLTE) services across the East African nation.

In the tests, the telco attained average download speeds up to 58.5 Megabits per second (Mbps) and average upload speeds up to 36.4 Mbps.

Safaricom got High Definition voice quality calls across its network with call set up of less than 2 seconds for calls.

“Congratulations to Safaricom for achieving the best user experience in Kenya. On top Safaricom shows the best data and voice user quality and performance. This is remarkable in these challenging COVID-19 times!” said Hakan Ekmen, CEO Telecommunication at umlaut.

The tests further indicated that VoLTE deployment, which accounts for more than 90% of Safaricom’s network, helps customers make calls and enjoy 4G data speeds simultaneously.

Safaricom’s top performance in mobile data is attributed to its deployment of 4G Carrier Aggregation which enables it to combine its 4G bandwidth on both the 1800 and 800 frequency bands.

Ecstatic Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa said they are committed to providing the best services to their customers.

“It is an honour to yet again be ranked ‘Best in Test’ for the fourth year in umlaut’s independent network tests. Our exceptional network performance is proof of our commitment to provide our customers with the best technology and connectivity wherever they are in the country, empowering them to access life-changing opportunities,” reiterated Ndegwa. 

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Access to Information and Freedom of Information in Sierra Leone
February 17, 2021 | 0 Comments

By: Ishmael Salieu Koroma*

Chairman of the Independent Media Commission, George S. Khoryama
Chairman of the Independent Media Commission, George S. Khoryama

Recommendation 226 in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (Freedom of Information) observed that ‘’Access to information is an important tool for public oversight. If citizens are able to scrutinize government information, they can discipline public officials at the ballot box. They can also use the use the information for legal challenges and the lobbying of decision makers.’’ 

To demonstrate its commitment to the democratization agenda, Sierra Leone passed the Right to Access Information (RAI) Act in 2013. The Act guarantees access to government information and also imposes a penalty on failure to make information available.

Sierra Leone was engulfed in a destructive civil war between 1991 and 2002. The civil war was partly caused by the non-accountability of the government, endemic corruption, misrule and the mismanagement of the country’s resources. Efforts have been made by the country, with the help of the international community, to embrace a democratic dispensation. To demonstrate its commitment to the democratization agenda, Sierra Leone passed the Right to Access Information (RAI) Act in 2013. The Act guarantees access to government information and also imposes a penalty on failure to make information available. However, Sierra Leone’s state institutions are still weak due to mismanagement and lack of transparency and accountability.

Freedom of expression and access to information are cornerstones of modern democracies. Public information/records are a means of power that governments and other political institutions use to exercise control over citizens, but are also a means of citizens’ empowerment. Through access to government information/records, media can play their watchdog role and people can assess the performance of governments and hold them accountable. The purpose of the paper is to demonstrate the fact that it is not enough to enact freedom of information laws (FOIs) if there is no political will to make government information accessible, an information management infrastructure to facilitate the creation, capture, management, dissemination, preservation and re-use of government information and investments in civil education to promote an information culture that appreciates information as a resource that underpins accountability and transparency.

The Government of Sierra Leone understands that freedom of information is an indispensable part of democratic societies. With the passing of this law, access to information and open data offers its citizenry the opportunity to critically evaluate authorities appointed and elected to account for their stewardship.

The establishment of the Right to Access Information Commission (RAIC) in 2014 generated a lot of interest from the demand side of the process, namely, citizens (disabled, women, and youth, as well as civil society organizations) and development partners who remain concerned about getting access to vital information as a way to effectively manage corruption and promote service delivery.

Chairman of the Right to Access Information Commission (RAIC), Dr. Ibrahim Seaga Shaw disclosed that the RAIC Act came into existence in 2013, being an Act to provide for the disclosure of information held by public authorities or by persons providing services for them and to provide for other related matters. He added that the Commission has a clear mandate to make information available to the masses by increasing the supply of open data to a possible extent.

The Chairman furthered that in a similar manner RAIC is poised to improve on data accessibility by the masses and to make them aware of what rights they have in gaining such access to information stating that it is against such a backdrop that they decided to organize such a workshop for journalists as they are very key in terms of proactive disclosure of information by public authorities.

Chairman of the Independent Media Commission, George S. Khoryama, said that the training was timely as it came in the wake of the Repeal of Part V of the Criminal Libel Law and the enactment into law of the new IMC Act 2020, adding that the IMC, as the regulator of the Media, is now more pre-occupied with the prospect of a responsible Press.

George S. Khoryama pointed out that the training of such a nature is very important in fulfilling the expectations of the new IMC Act 2020 and the Media Code of Practice.

“Until you travel that is when you could realize that media institutions in this country are poor. The media is poor financially, professionally, technically and ethically and only a training of this sort could help to mitigate the militating effects on media growth,” he opined.

There are mixed feelings from among members of the journalism community as to whether there is freedom of information in Sierra Leone. President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists, Ahmed Sahid Nasralla believes that ‘’we have been given the opportunity to practice our trade, but we must do so responsibly and professionally too.’’ Musa S. Kamara is a journalist that works with Radio Democracy, 98.FM in Freetown. To him, ‘’freedom of information is not absolute because there are top state officials that will just not talk to journalists.’’

In all of this, it will depend on who one talks to, but the fact that there is need for freedom of information and the press in the 21st century should not be overstated.

*This article is produced with support from MRCG through the ATJLF project on “Engaging the media to change the narrative on Transitional Justice (TJ) issues in Sierra Leone.

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Misa-Zimbabwe calls for inclusion of Journalists in COVID-19 vaccination priority roll-out
February 17, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Harare,Zimbabwe-MISA Zimbabwe has called upon the government to prioritise and also include journalists among the first priority groups listed for the COVID-19 vaccination rollout programme.

“Our request is informed by the fact that the media was declared an essential service in terms of Zimbabwe’s COVID-19 regulations,” MISA-Zimbabwe said.

 The media watchdog organization said that Journalists, together with other essential priority groups, are frontline workers that need to be prioritised as well given the critical role they play in keeping the nation informed on developments and measures the government is taking to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

 “In any case, the media, by virtue of its fundamental and normative role of informing and educating, is key to the coverage of the immunisation rollout,” MISA-Zimbabwe said.

 It added that the media can, therefore, not be left out for later consideration as journalists will be reporting from the frontline as the country rolls out immunisation of the essential groups identified to receive the first jabs.

 The organization added that the government can work closely with the Zimbabwe Media Commission, media houses and media representative organisations on how best to implement the immunisation for journalists as they are a critical component of the sectors and groups that have been declared essential services.

 They said that Journalists are frontline workers that risk their lives as they collect and disseminate information hence the need to prioritise their health and safety.

 MISA-Zimbabwe added that lessons can be drawn from Zambia, which through its Ministry of Health, recently announced that journalists would be among the first recipients of the COVID-19 vaccines when they arrive in that country.

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Zambians Take Heed to Responsible Drinking Pledge
February 17, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Nevson Mpofu

Lusaka Zambia   -In an orchestrated move to call for responsible behavior, Zambian Breweries has intensified # Responsible Together Campaign which was launched in September 2020. The # Responsible Together Pledge has so far reached 60,000 people of which 12,524 have responded through social media ‘

The campaign according to Zambian Breweries Country Director Jose Moran as posted by Langmead and Baker a Communication to this media house is meant to stem out un-responsible drinking and bring sanity and order, thereby promoting and supporting smart drinking habits.

The campaign is a full package of awareness and information to educate consumers about the need to be responsible with beer drinking especially during this covid-19- era. This stamps out ills of drinking which exacerbates and fuel gender-based violence and violence among youth which is said to be rife in Zambia.

The campaign launch is cultivating a culture of responsible drinking and avoiding excessive drinking habits which cause sundry abuses in public places. The pledge brings sanity to communities, creating a peaceful and environment of order and tranquility. In the posted news release Jose Moran notes that the campaign is changing the way consumers think by cultivating positive responsible drinking culture and behavior especially during covid-19 time.

‘’Responsible Together Campaign is changing way consumers think by cultivating positive responsible drinking culture and behavior especially in covid-19 times that avoids excess drinking and abuse.

‘’We are thrilled to see how people are coming out to pledge for smart drinking community. Zambia Breweries is committed to making communities safe for everyone and free of vices such as underage drinking, binge drinking and gender-based violence’’.

As part of smart drinking principle, Zambian Breweries collaborates with various partners, influencers, regulators to reach wide community that includes Government, Lusaka City council, Ndola City Council, Road Transport Safety Agency [RTSA Football Associations and celebrities.

The campaign runs under covid-19 guidelines. It is harnessed on On-Line platforms to engage with the public, share messages, videos, posters, digital space reaching 30,000 people. Alcohol abuse is rife in Zambia especially in un-planned settlements in Lusaka and Copperbelt. This is why Zambian Breweries is taking the step to bring awareness and educate communities at large.

Jose Moran adds that as leaders in the sector they have taken steps to reach out to communities in order to educate and bring awareness to people about the dangers at the same time coming out with solutions to problems and challenges that must be addressed.

‘’As leaders in alcohol sector, we have taken steps to reach out to communities, educate and create awareness on the dangers and also to come out with solutions. We want everybody to come on board. Alcohol affects community, It has negative effects in our community.’’

Jose expands that through engagements they have been able to create open space for conversations. He explains that they have been able to make huge difference in short-time. The campaign in the last three months has shown that through engagement and awareness they create better solutions, remove bad vices in the manner people socialize and drink alcohol.

‘’Through engagement and creating open conversations, we have been able to make difference in short-time. The #Responsible Together Campaign in the last 3 months has shown us through engagement and awareness, we create better solutions, remove bad vices in the manner we socialize and drink alcohol ‘’ Jose concludes.

He thanked media for creating awareness and education disseminated to the general public especially youth on the dangers of beer that is related to kachasu , junta and tujijiji that is rife in Zambia . He advocates for a health community and a responsible nation.

Zambian Breweries belongs to Anheuser-Busch In-Bev [AB-In-Bev] the largest in the World. It consists of 400 beer brands with 200,000 employees in 50 countries. It is also the largest bottlers of soft drinks. ZB was established in 1968. It is a bottling company of clear beers such as Mosi Larger, Castle Larger, Carling black label, , Eagle beer and Stella Artois and Budweiser .

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SADC summit terrorists attacks in Mozambique postponed to May or June
February 17, 2021 | 0 Comments

President Nyusi is having a hard time containing terrorist attacks
President Nyusi is having a hard time containing terrorist attacks

The extraordinary summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), to discuss the terrorist attacks in Cabo Delgado in northern Mozambique, has been postponed to May or June.

The summit was originally planned to take place in Maputo in January, but was postponed first to March, and then to May or June, because of the worsening covid-19 pandemic in the region.

Pan African Visions has learned that the summit could take place in a virtual format if the pandemic worsens.

The attacks are also impacting conscription in Cabo Delgado. The Mozambican military has met less than half of its target for conscription in the province, which an official has blamed on the displacement of people due to the attacks.

There have been 6,294 young people conscripted out of an expected 14,952 with only two weeks left for the end of the conscription process that started on 4 January 2021.

Foncina Búfalo, provincial delegate for the military recruitment and mobilisation centre, said that it was related to people abandoning their homes in the districts of Mocímboa da Praia, Muidumbe, Quissanga and Macomia, and the delay in resuming classes, as many young people were found by the military in schools.

Búfalo said that registration brigades had been sent to the accommodation centres for refugees, but even so there were difficulties in registering young people, because they said they had lost their documents when fleeing from terrorists, and the system did not allow registration without ID. She added that school classes will resume in March, but military conscription was ending at the end of this month.

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Ethiopia is Waxing Strong in the Face of Multiple Challenges-Ambassador Arega
February 16, 2021 | 10 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

No country in the world would have tolerated the provocation and heinous actions of the TPLF says Ambassador Arega in defence of the response of Ethiopia to crisis in Tigray
No country in the world would have tolerated the provocation and heinous actions of the TPLF says Ambassador Arega in defence of the response of Ethiopia to crisis in Tigray

Ethiopia’s envoy to the USA Ambassador Fitsum Arega says that amidst multiple challenges, the country is waxing strong. Speaking in an exclusive zoom interview with PAV, Ambassador Arega says doomsday scenarios painted about his country in some media circles do not reflect the realities on the ground.

Defending the response of Prime Minister Abiy’s government to the crisis in Tigray, Ambassador Arega says that no country in the world would have tolerated the provocation and heinous actions of the TPLF. Ambassador Arega laments the humanitarian challenge that the war has brought but is quick to say his government is doing its level best and working in collaboration with international partners to ensure that aid is brought to the people in need and normalcy returns to the region.

On the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, Ambassador Arega said it is a public and not a government project with some five billion dollars fully funded by Ethiopians in the country and the Diaspora in the form of donations and bonds matched by the government. Ambassador Arega said his country has been forthcoming in sharing all progress and developments on the construction of the dam with Sudan and Egypt and any scepticism is uncalled for.

While relations between the USA and Ethiopia may have been ruffled due to bias in favour of Egypt by the previous administration, Ambassador Arega said he is optimistic on prospects of stronger bonds of cooperation with the Biden administration.

Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, Ambassador Arega said his Embassy remains open and he has been working hand in glove with the dynamic Ethiopian diaspora to support recovery efforts back home. In the interview which also covers the upcoming elections, investment opportunities, and changes in the country since Prime Minister Abiy took office, Ambassador Arega shared reassuring perspectives on his country. Prime Minister Abiy has inspired millions since he came to office and reforms are still ongoing, Ambassador Arega said.

Pan African Visions: May we start with how Ethiopia is doing politically, economically and socially?

Ambassador Arega: Ethiopia has been doing very well before COVID-19 in terms of economic growth but there were serious concerns on political inclusion. Since the pandemic, Ethiopia is one of the least affected. So far more than 2 million people got tested of which 147,000 tested positive and fortunately 129,000 recovered with some 16,700 active cases. It is however sad that around 2,200 people died.

Due to the international lockdowns, trade disruptions, logistics and tourism challenges, the economy has been affected. Since Ethiopia’s economy is predominantly agricultural and the rural areas are less affected, our economic performance is still one of the strongest in Africa; last year, ending June 30, 2020 the GDP growth was 6.1%.

In terms of political stability, for over four years prior to Prime Minister Abiy assumed power there was mounting public pressure for change. As a result Prime Minister Abiy was elected as chairman of the governing party and the Prime Minister. Following his acceptance speech, hope sweep throughout the country, and in the region.

In the first few days the Prime Minister announced forgiveness, peace and unity as his central pillars for his reforms. As part of the reforms political prisoners were released, politicians and media in exile were invited into the country, state of emergency was lifted, banned media were allowed, judicial and security institutions were declared independent and the healing process was going very well with the exception of some challenges in between and the major road block coming from the TPLF, which led to the November 4, 2020 provocation and act of treason committed on the Northern command of the Federal Army.

Pan African Visions: We will get to the specifics of the conflict in a moment but let’s talk about your current functions. You have been Ambassador for a couple of years now, what is the state of ties between Washington and Addis Ababa?

Ambassador Arega: The diplomatic relations have been essentially old, to be exact one hundred and seventeen years, and last year was one of the challenging years due to President Trump’s invitation for the three countries to negotiate on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. That did not work out the way we all wanted. It was not impartial; unacceptable proposal was coming from Egypt that was also supported by the then U.S. Administration. We all welcomed Washington as an observer, but the Treasury Department went on influencing in favour of Egypt. Except this incident our relation has been in good terms. Now, the relations are getting much better.

Bias from the Trump administration in support of Egypt did not help relations between the USA and Ethiopia says Ambassador Arega
Bias from the Trump administration in support of Egypt did not help relations between the USA and Ethiopia says Ambassador Arega

Pan African Visions: Last year, the US suspended some aid to your country. Now, with a new administration, what efforts are being made to make sure these measures are lifted?

Ambassador Arega: The new administration is just taking shape. They have not even appointed some members of the administration. We have started contacting the relevant institutions and we are optimist that things will get better. High-level contacts have been made. We’ll be working hard to improve our relations. We are optimist that the assistance suspended on the basis of Ethiopia’s Dam will be released and also trade and investment between the two countries will increase.

Pan African Visions: The main development in the country is the conflict in the Tigray region. What is the situation there at the moment and can you give us a little background as to how things evolved to where they are today?

Ambassador Arega: As a background, when Prime Minister Abiy started sweeping political reform both in terms of widening the political space, welcoming opposition parties as well as party level reforms and when introducing economic reforms with the aim of macroeconomic stability and realigning the focus from public led to private sector led, he faced resistance from the TPLF party, the governing party of the Tigray region which directly and indirectly led the country for 27 years. The resistance grew when the election was postponed due to covid-19 reason, as per the constitution.     

However, PM Abiy tried his best to peacefully resolve the tensions through dialogue, sending elders and community leaders to the Tigray region. In the meantime, ethnically and religious motivated displacements and killings were observed in different parts of the country. Then on November 4, 2020 Tigray regional forces and some federal army members of Tigrean origin the defected from the federal army launched a coordinated attack on the Northern Command of the Ethiopian Army in many military bases while they were not expecting at all. They then looted the command’s military equipment, artillery, detained and killed many in horrific situation. They admitted on their media saying they took thunder like action as pre-emptive attack.

The Ethiopian government had no option but to counter and launch a low enforcement operation. This is unacceptable act that no country on earth tolerates. So, the attack was heinous crime and we believe the international community would understand the situation.

You can compare what happened in the Washington insurrection, but this is more than that. It is a treasonous act. That’s how it evolved. During the law-enforcement operation, it took three weeks to control the capital of the Region (Mekelle) and after that, the operation was conducted to capture the fugitives, to bring them to justice.

There were close to 1.6 million people in the safety-net program that needed food aid on a regular basis before the conflict. An additional 900,000 people were added to this and after the conflict it became 2.5 million people. The federal government and the newly established provisional government in the Tigray have been partnering with international agencies to provide food and medicine to the needy.

When the TPLF forces flee away they dismantled infrastructure like bridges, telecom, power, airports etc so that the government forces won’t advance.

Now, the government is tasked with maintaining all these on top of the relief and rehabilitation activities and to date telecom and power has been restored in many cities and villages; airports have been maintained, temporary bridges have been installed so that humanitarian work can continue. There has been misinformation regarding the humanitarian activities, and this is not fair. We believe the truth will prevail.  

Pan African Visions: To push back on what you described as negative news, Prime Minister Abiy won the Nobel Peace Prize and opinions have been divided. What did his government do to peacefully resolve this conflict before taking on a full-scale battle?

Ambassador Arega: it is unwise to think a Prime Minister who won a Nobel Peace Prize would not defend its country when an act of treason is committed; this is unacceptable. We can compare this with Washington when Capitol Hill was swamped by some violent demonstrators breaking the building, looting or destroying document. This was insurrection. As a result, impeachment law was invoked, perpetrators were brought to justice and the process is still continuing. What TPLF has done is more than that.

Pan African Visions: And what is your response to human rights groups and others who think in the course of trying to resolve the crisis there has been a heavy toll on innocent civilians?

Ambassador Arega: First of all, the government has made many attempts to avoid the confrontation, by sending elders, community leaders, etc. When that didn’t work after the attack the countering law enforcement operation was conducted with at most care, with calls to surrender in between the operations, to give the TPLF wanted fugitives an opportunity and minimize casualty.

There are human rights groups that escalated estimates of the casualties, refugees to Sudan, internally displaced people, people who need aid. They speculate or report based on unfounded, unconfirmed, unverified or anonymous sources.

The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission investigated Mai-Kadra, where hundreds of people were massacred while the village was under the effective administration of the TPLF. This is crime against humanity. We are open for investigation and there are also visits going on by various groups.

Since Prime Minister Abiy came to power, he has inspired millions and reforms are still alive, says Ambassador Arega
Since Prime Minister Abiy came to power, he has inspired millions and reforms are still alive, says Ambassador Arega

Pan African Visions: Prime Minister Abiy came to power with a reform-minded agenda. What will you say has changed in Ethiopia under his leadership?

Ambassador Arega: Since he came to power, he inspired millions and reforms are still alive. In terms of political space, now I do not know any opposition that is in exile. This was unthinkable in the past. In terms of the economy, the PM introduced what we call Home-Grown Economic Reform programme which has the agenda of sustaining the economy by way of empowering the private sector.

Improving the macroeconomic imbalances through dept management and restructuring, privatization of state-owned enterprises, including telecom, sugar industries, etc.

The major challenge so far and going forward is the impact of COVID-19 in the economy. When you talk about tourism, import-export, mining, and other industries, unless the ban on international travel is lifted, it will continue to be challenging.

So, we are focusing on agriculture and other resilient sectors. Ethiopian Airlines has been adjusting and is doing its best in COVID-19 related cargo operations. The airline has been instrumental in distributing PPEs to many African countries.

Pan African Visions: With regards to the election that will be coming up later in the year, how equipped and strong are the institutions in Ethiopia to ensure that there will be free, fair, and acceptable to all the parties?

Ambassador Arega: The Ethiopian Election Board, the main body established to conduct election and other institutions with judicial and executive power have gone through reforms and training with the aim of conducting free, fair and acceptable election. The election is scheduled for June 5, 2021 and the preparations so far as expressed by some members of the opposition parties is encouraging.  

Pan African Visions: The construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam has created a lot of tensions with neighbouring countries like Egypt and Sudan. May we know why your country attaches so much importance to the project?

Ambassador Arega: The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is fully financed by Ethiopians, no loan or grant from overseas. About 5 billion US dollars have been raised by Ethiopians at home and in the Diaspora and matched by the government. We have done all the necessary studies and executed accordingly through professional support. We also involved international panel of experts to advise the three countries on their best scenarios. We also shared all required information to Sudan and Egypt.

Ethiopia is willing to negotiate in good faith with the objective of win-win cooperation. We are saying let us negotiate on the basis of the Declaration of Principles signed by the leaders of the three countries in December 2015. Therefore, the negotiation should be on the filling of the dam and the operation. However, Egypt wants to focus on water allocation with the hope to maintain what they call the “historical water rights”.  

With regards to the water allocation, we have another platform, the Nile Basin Initiative which includes all the countries of the Nile. Ethiopia cannot bring the agenda of Nile Basin Initiative to the tripartite negotiation.

Ethiopia is contributing 86% to the Nile but utilizing close to zero. The Grand Renaissance Dam is not a water-consuming project. It is for generating electric power, for generation the water needs to hit the turbines and flow to downstream countries, Sudan and Egypt.

Ethiopia is more than ready to negotiate in good faith. We believe the best way to reach an agreement is to refer it to the scientific experts of the three countries. The issue is technical, and it is important not to fix technical issues by politicians, which is the case now. What should dictate us is the fact on the ground, the availability of enough water. This was the case last year and our first filling did not harm anyone in the downstream.

Ambassador Arega has been working hard with the diaspora to complement development efforts in Ethiopia.
Ambassador Arega has been working hard with the diaspora to complement development efforts in Ethiopia.

Pan African Visions: To American and other investors out there who are curious about Ethiopia, what opportunities are available today and how is the investment climate?

Ambassador Arega: At present, the main challenge to attract investment in any country is COVID-19, though there are some exceptional sectors like ICT where it is even more attractive during this time.

In addition to the ICT sector Ethiopia is promoting privatization of Telecom and other state-owned enterprises, investment in the health sector, mining, infrastructure such as power, and post COVID-19 in many other sectors including manufacturing and agriculture.

We have recently improved our investment law and ease of doing business by introducing single-window platform for customs clearance, import-export facilitation, etc.

Pan African Visions: As we wrap this interview, maybe we ask you how things are at the Embassy. Is the Embassy open and are the borders of your country open?

Ambassador Arega: Yes, our Embassy has been open throughout COVID-19 practicing the CDC guidelines. We have consulates in Los Angeles and Minnesota. In addition to this, we commenced online services; we have online visa, online power of attorney and passport renewal services. Yes, our boarders are open and welcoming people as long as they have a negative COVID-19 test result and practice the guidelines.

We have been also mobilizing virtually the Diaspora Community. We had more than 100 virtual meetings with these groups in 41 states. We have raised useful resources both in kind and in cash through banks, on line platforms like GoFundMe. Some of the Diasporas have been active on trade and investment. They also assisted in the advocacy of the GERD and other issues that concern the US.

The government of Ethiopia has called for the members of the Diaspora to enhance their commitment to contribute more on trade and investment, and counter misinformation.

*Culled from February Issue of PAV Magazine

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Poor Leadership is Killing the African Continent-NDI’s Chris Fomunyoh
February 16, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Dr Christopher Fomunyoh, Senior Associate for Africa and Regional Director at the National Democratic Institute (NDI)
Dr Christopher Fomunyoh, Senior Associate for Africa and Regional Director at the National Democratic Institute (NDI)

Dr Christopher Fomunyoh, Senior Associate for Africa and Regional Director at the National Democratic Institute (NDI) has said the poor leadership that is on the African continent is one that is giving the continent a bad name.

Dr Fomunyoh was speaking recently on Nigeria Info’s Pin Point on the theme “How Can Africa Be Built”? The discussion touched on a vast array of topics such as the coronavirus pandemic, vaccine distribution in Africa, the US-Africa relationship and the violence on the continent such as in Nigeria and Cameroon. 

“Africa is not a poor continent but it is poor leadership that is placing us where we are. It is poor leadership that is giving Africa a bad name. How can u explain that somebody close to 90 years old; President Biya just celebrated his 88th anniversary a few days ago has been in power for some 40 years; Obiang has been in power for 42 years,” Dr Christopher Fomunyoh cries out.

“How can you explain that someone like that can be able to compete with today’s technology; and respond to the worries of the youths? The world has evolved and it is about time we too evolve our leadership so we can galvanize our resources and leverage them so that it can benefit the African people.”

On the coronavirus pandemic, Dr Fomunyoh said the pandemic has caused a lot of deaths but it isn’t that much as people had feared. “We feel fortunate that our numbers have been lower than the numbers we have seen on other continents, Asia, North America. There is now the concern about the second wave that could hit the continent and I feel gratified with the role that African leaders have played to raise their voices and engage the WHO on vaccines,” Dr Christopher Fomunyoh said.

“We cannot ignore this crisis; it is a global pandemic and it is eating multiple sectors of the African continent. The AU has no choice but to tackle the crisis even if they have other issues.”

Speaking on the issues of vaccines he said: “Africa needs to get a Seat at the Table and that is the only way it can get its voice heard. If Dr Thedros was not there, there isn’t any guaranteed that our collective voices would have been heard in the same light.  I am also happy that our sister Dr Ngozi is going to lead the WTO. There is a message that Africans that are well endowed should be seeking such positions at the global stage so that they can also bring the African voices on the table.”

On the aspect of the US-Africa relations with the new administration that is in place, Dr Christopher is optimistic that things will be different than the past four years where the former President Trump did not even visit the continent in his four-year stay.

“We want to see actions that match those words,” Dr Christopher said. “It is a great start as it is a far demarcation from his predecessor at the white house, where Africa was not giving as a priority. The new president’s actions are already rewarding such as his endorsement of the candidacy of Dr Ngozi for the WTO, several African-Americans have been nominated and confirmed to strategic positions within the US government.”

“Africa needs to assert itself; ask to be heard and we need to put up our wish list. There is nothing wrong in saying these are the things that have not to work well in the past and this is our priorities. Africa needs to project itself as a global player.”

The next four years could be good for US-Africa Relations - Dr Fomunyoh says
The next four years could be good for US-Africa Relations – Dr Fomunyoh says

The Regional Director at the National Democratic Institute (NDI) has said it is regrettable what is going on in some parts of the continent due to violence. A situation that Nigeria has faced for the past years and its neighbour Cameroon has been going through for the past four years in the English-speaking part of the country.

Dr Fomunyoh said: “We as Africans have to do everything we can to bring our leaders to understand that violence only bequeaths violence and that political grievances should be resolved through negotiations and political means. We have to do everything to silence the guns on the continent so that we can all focus on building a better Africa than the one we might have inherited from the previous generations.”

About the NDI

It is a non-governmental organization that works to support and strengthen democracy worldwide. It was created in 1983 as a non-partisan organization that works to support democratic processes in a non-partisan way. The NGO has offices in about 55 countries around the world. We have a presence of about 18 countries on the African continent with local staff working alongside political parties, election management bodies, CSOs, to help strengthen democratic processes. The organization has been active on the continent for close to thirty years.

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Cameroon Anglophone Crisis: A Legacy On The Line For Cardinal Tumi
February 16, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Andrew Nsoseka

 The reputation of Cardinal Tumi as the moral voice of Cameroon is increasingly under question
The reputation of Cardinal Tumi as the moral voice of Cameroon is increasingly under question

Many in Cameroon and beyond are increasingly asking how Christian Cardinal Tumi, Archbishop Emeritus of Douala Archdiocese, who at the beginning of the Anglophone crisis was an outspoken sympathiser of the Anglophone problem, has of recent, seemingly evolved to a sympathiser of the government.

Many have suggested that his abduction, or probably negative impacts of the crisis, and separatists’ atrocities, or all of the above may be responsible for the shift in the Cardinal’s recent views, expressed in latest media outings.

Cardinal Tumi, who over the years, has been regarded as Cameroon’s moral voice, was one of the country’s prominent voices articulating the Anglophone problem when it resurfaced in 2016, and morphed into an armed conflict. Like many others, the Cardinal criticised the military option employed to quell down dissenting voices. The Cardinal had also questioned the nature of the political undertakings that led to the reunification of the two Cameroons, urging that there is a need to revisit them.

He has never been reserved when it comes to criticising the political steps that were taken after reunification which are largely blamed for creating the Anglophone Problem in Cameroon. Acts like the tampering with the Federal Constitution and doing away with pillar constitutional provisions that robbed Anglophones of their ability to have an idntoty and decide their fate as well as partake in the management of their affairs have mainly influenced the Cardinal’s sympathy for the Anglophone crisis and the actors spearheading it.

At the beginning of the crisis and even when it escalated, Cardinal Tumi remained one of those staunch critics of government’s action. Most of his public outings made government stakeholders uncomfortable as he spared no words in condemning government’s overall attitude and response to the issues raised.

The Cardinal who spearheaded the idea of a third All Anglophone Conference, said after listening to the various interventions of prominent voices in the Anglophone crisis, he discovered that the “leaders were not saying the same thing”. He said he then conceived an idea to hold a general conference of all Anglophones so that they can debate and come out as one front with a singular demand where in a dialogue forum, they can voice it out as one, to their francophone brothers whom they united with.

Asked at the time by Elie Smith, whether the Cardinal was tele-guided by the Yaounde regime, as many had claimed, the Cardinal responded, “Surely if there is any body to be pushed around in Cameroon, it is not Cardinal Tumi. I have my personal conviction”. He had said.

The Cardinal’s initiative which was embraced by all prominent religious leaders in Anglophone regions, finally did not hold, due to lack of authorisation from government.

In an Interview with STV’s Peter Nsoesie, the Cardinal said the separatist fighters whom has talked with severally, have come to him for blessings, and that he did bless them, and talked to them frankly. He said he told them that he condemns their attitude of killing those who do not share their ideology. “I told them, I disagree on three points, number one, your intolerance; those who disagree with you, you are ready to kill them, that is not the solution to your problem. Secondly, your intolerance with schools. You are now fighting against the future of your brothers and sisters. Who will rule with you? Will you rule alone if you come to power tomorrow? You will be intolerant to the opposition. You can’t imagine countries in the world without the opposition. Opposition is useful. And then finally, those who are abroad, they say for those who are in the bushes around the country, they contribute financially for their wellbeing in the forests. If you have money in the forest, what do you do with it? I told one, a relative of mine, a surgeon, to also come home with his wife and children, if he is serious, so that others should contribute money and give him to live and fight in the forest. Since then, he has not telephoned me.”

In an interview with CRTV’s Joe Chebonkeng, Cardinal Tumi once defended Separatist fighters, stating that “We pray for these boys in the bushes, we pray for the army. Most of the killing is done by the army, it is not done by the boys.

‘Do you have empirical facts’, Joe Chebonkeng asked, “of course, objective studies”, the Cardinal responded “and it is still going on. In Kumbo, 400 people have been killed, the Bishop of Kumbo Diocese and his priests have made a study and the majority of those who have been killed, have not been killed by these boys. They do not have the sophisticated arms that the army has, maybe if they had, they would have killed more, but they don’t have. The army comes in, maybe a rebel boy has killed a military officer and run away, the army comes in, enter a family and they kill everybody” ‘is that true?’, Chebonkeng asked, to which the Cardinal responded at the top of his voice, “it is perfectly true, and I am ready to die for it.”

The Cardinal who spearheaded the botched All Anglophone General Conference, in an interview with Equinoxe TV, had confessed that a survey conducted by the organisers to sample the preferences of Anglophones in Cameroon regarding the form of state was deliberately tailored to blot out the option of separation. He however stated that the majority of respondents opted for total separation, even when they tried to take away that option. “In our questionnaire to the Anglophones on the form of state, we tried to influence the Anglophone opinion, but we did not succeed. Therefore, it shows how deep the problem is.”

The Cardinal said when they asked respondents about their preferred form of state, they deliberately named just unitary, decentralisation, and federation, and intentionally left out the option of total independence, “69 percent of Anglophones said they wanted absolute separation, that was the word they used, that is to say, secession”.

The Cardinal said the respondents in the space provided for other options, opted for absolute separation. He said the report was drafted, and sent to the President, through the Prime Minister.

Cardinal Tumi with SDF Chairman Ni John Fru Ndi. Moderate Anglophone voices are targets of criticism from separatist forces and the government
Cardinal Tumi with SDF Chairman Ni John Fru Ndi. Moderate Anglophone voices are targets of criticism from separatist forces and the government

Expressing a personal view, Cardinal Tumi has repeatedly said in a dialogue, the option of separation should be on the table, and if the separatists convince others that it is the best option, it should be granted, especially as the two factions that make up modern Cameroon were once separated.

Cardinal Tumi’s Sympathy For Separatists Dwindles

On Thursday, November 5, 2020, Christian Cardinal Tumi and the Fon of Nso, HRM Sem Mbinglo were abducted in Babessi, as their convoy drove to the Nso palace, where the Fon had escaped earlier on, as a result of the crisis.

In Babessi, the two were abducted and hours later, the Cardinal was released. Following his release, Cardinal Tumi wrote a book titled, “My Night In Captivity” in which unlike before, he proposed that it would be best for the country, if the military takes over the whole country, including the troubled regions.

The Cardinal opined that in such a situation of military takeover, power is also taken from the separatists, and then the military organises an election in which a leader for the country is chosen, to bring order to the whole country. In some of his media outings, the Cardinal in his shift from a pro-separatists stand, rather suggested that the greater fight should be for the unity of Africa, so that the little fights like creation of new states can be put to rest.

Personally, the Cardinal says he favours Federalism as the best option. In Babessi, while in separatists’ custody, the Cardinal told them that he will rather opt for Federalism than secession. Like many Anglophones, the Cardinal might have grown weary of some of the atrocities carried out by separatists, and thus fears a scenario where they take over and build a society where opposing voices are not entertained. However, like any progressive voice, Cardinal Tumi still supports the option that all opinions should be entertained, and whichever the afflicted and concerned persons favour should be adopted.

*Culled from February Issue of PAV Magazine

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Brazil Africa Institute highlights climate change and sustainable development in seminar focused on renewable energy
February 16, 2021 | 0 Comments

Fortaleza, Brazil – February 15th, 2021 — On March 30, the Brazil Africa Institute (IBRAF) will hold the “Seminar Renewable Energy in Brazil and Africa: The Clean Engines of Economic Development”.

The goal is to promote in-depth discussions on the main trends in the energy sector, sustainable economic development and climate change, in response to the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The seminar will be 100% online and live streamed with simultaneous translations to English and Portuguese. The programme will focus on the three pillars of sustainable development: environmental, economic and social.

The event will promote a moment of excellence for sharing projects and ideas, bringing together names that are references in the Brazilian, African and international contexts. It will be possible to present solutions, highlight information based on scientific data, encourage smart investments and urgent inclusive policies in the energy sector.

Within the African context, renewable energies are a reality in many countries and investments have been increasing. The continent however still needs to overcome the challenges of social inequality, since a considerable portion of its population does not have access to energy of any kind.

On the other hand, Brazil currently has about 46% of its energy matrix made up of renewable sources and 83% of its electricity is derived from hydroelectric plants, bioenergy, solar panels, wind turbines and geothermal stations.

More info on: https://ibraf.org/projects/renewable-energy-seminar/

About the Brazil Africa Institute
The Brazil Africa Institute (IBRAF) is a facilitator of good practices that aims to promote international cooperation and engagement between Brazil and the African continent, defending the economic development of countries, the convergence of private sector and governments interests and the enhancement of multilateral relations. IBRAF creates and encourages initiatives that promote trade and investments, technical and scientific cooperation, capacity building and the strengthening of academic research.

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